Counting and numbers are everywhere in our world, but for small kids it can seem quite daunting - even though it really doesn’t have to be. In this post we are going to chat about fun and easy ways to help your little ones with numbers.
Our My Busy Bots bag “Googly eyed monster” is a fun way to get started (and also loved by my little monster!). He loves to count out the right amount of googly eyes and place them on the monster’s face. Initially, he needed a bit of help reading the number before he started counting out the eyes, but soon he become familiar with the written numbers as well. This activity has number recognition, counting and fine motor skills all wrapped up in one easy to use busy bag. He was having so much fun and he didn’t even know he was learning! All our activities come in handy bags, so I always keep some on me when I’m on the go. They are lifesavers when in waiting rooms, meeting friends for coffee etc, and I am happy knowing he is learning whilst playing.
Here are some other ways of strengthening your little ones understanding of numbers:
Numbers should start off by becoming familiar words, an important reason why we should use numbers in our everyday conversation with them. Singing nursery rhymes with numbers in them is a fantastic way to do this - “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed” and “One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive” are some good examples. Let the number words become common place in their lives just like other familiar words such as car, dog or ball.
Next, you can model counting for them. Before they start eating their lunch count the pieces of cucumber on their plate or when you put on their shoes count their feet out aloud and say “two feet”. Another good one is counting steps as you go up the stairs or counting toes in the bath. They love that, especially when it ends in a tickle!
But, ultimately, for a child to know what numbers are and what they really mean, they need to be able to count objects with one-to-one correspondence. That’s the next level that will help them with starting Maths at school. This may sound like an odd term but it is really simple. It’s counting objects and assigning a number to each object as you count, rather than simply moving objects around and counting in a rote fashion. They need to know that each individual item gets a number. Sometimes children say the numbers like a rhyme rather than understanding each word is an individual number.
Practicing counting items is the best way to do this. Incorporate it into everyday life: “how many toys on your bed?” or “how many people in our family?” But finding fun ways to accomplish this is key, as it will hold their attention for longer.