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Number Recognition For Preschoolers – Importance And Activities

Right from when a baby is born, we expose them to numbers. Be it through songs and nursery rhymes, or patterns and prints that have numbers on them, teaching them about how old they are… numbers are a part of their lives since they are born.

Once your child learns all the number names, its time to add an actual shape, figure and symbol to the numbers that are in their mind so far, by teaching number recognition for 1 to 10. To work up to counting, adding, subtracting, and multiplying, your child will first master this universally helpful skill — number recognition!

What Is Number Recognition?

Number Recognition is when a child learns how to identify different numbers by their names, by the way that they look, and by matching them to their representative quantities. For this, children need to learn how to write numbers in numerical form as well as in words with their correct spellings.

Why Does A Preschooler Need To Recognise Numbers?

Teaching your child about number recognition is important, as it helps them develop the fundamental skills that they will need to progress in kindergarten. Being able to visually recognise and name numbers is a skill that every student should develop, as this will help them improve their mathematical skills.

Number recognition is also a vital skill that students will end up using in their everyday life. If they are unable to recognise numbers, then they may struggle to comprehend basic math problems, and other day-to-day activities like add up their grocery bill, open their book to a certain page, and many more. Faster number recognition will result in students being able to understand the concept of addition more, too.

Some Real Life Examples For Children To Identify Numbers

When teaching number recognition to your preschoolers, they might find it easier to grasp if you include examples from the world around them. Here is a list of objects, things and activities that give them an opportunity to identify and recognise numbers around them.

  • Price tags
  • Currency notes and coins
  • Phone Numbers
  • Class number in school
  • House/flat number
  • Milestones
  • Page numbers
  • Board Games

When Should Your Child Start To Recognise Numbers?

Students should start learning about number recognition in their early education, in preparation for when they go to kindergarten. Typically, the number recognition age is about 3-4 years old, which is the time when they start learning about number formation and how to count. This learning journey continues for a long time, as larger and larger numbers will be introduced in math lessons as they advance.

Four Key Skills Of Number Recognition

Number recognition is made up of four main individual skills. Students will use a combination of these skills to develop their overall number recognition skills, and each of these skills is vital for your child’s educational development.

The four skills for learning Number Recognition are:

  1. Identifying Numbers – This is where students learn how to correctly and automatically recognize numerals between 0 and 9.
  2. Naming Numbers – This involves students being able to recall the name of a number upon seeing it in either numerical form or as a quantity.
  3. Matching Numbers to their representative quantities – Students will learn how to look at a quantity of objects and match this quantity to the correct number.
  4. Writing Numbers – This requires students to learn how to write numbers, both as words and in their numerical forms.

How Do You Identify If Your Child Is Ready To Start Recognising Numbers? 

If you have observed these patterns in your child, you will know that they are ready to start learning number recognition:

  • Your child is showing curiosity about numbers
  • Your child is able to recognise some common shapes and figures
  • Your child is learning new ways to communicate
  • Your child has learnt and understood the number names.

Difference Between Number Recognition And Number Formation

Whilst number recognition and number formation are closely related, number formation focuses solely on the formation of numbers, while number recognition incorporates many more number skills. Number formation forms an integral part of number recognition, but there is a lot more to number recognition than writing numbers correctly.

If your child isn’t able to write the numbers correctly, it might be a good idea to focus on improving their number formation skills before advancing on to other areas of number recognition.

How To Teach Your Child Number Recognition

There are a number of strategies that can be used to teach number recognition to your pre-schooler. Children need to develop these skills early on, in preparation for attending kindergarten. Here are a few ways in which you can effectively teach your kids.

1. Reinforce number sequencing

Learning what numbers come before and after one another will help your child understand the value of all numbers. This will help your kid make sense of numbers in their mind, and it will also help them to improve their counting skills.

2. Use counting principles

When counting objects, students should be taught that each object can only be counted once, and each object is assigned its own number, and these numbers are counted in a certain order. When using counting principles, it is important to teach students that when they have counted the last object, this number is also the total number of objects that there are. This skill will enable them to answer the simple math questions ‘how many objects are there?’ and begin to understand that each number has a different value.

3. Rhymes and songs

Songs and rhymes are incredibly catchy and memorable, and your kindergartener will love learning them and singing along! Once they memorise the songs, they will easily be able to recall the information. Choose interesting number recognition songs that talk about numbers, counting and even how a number looks to make the lesson interesting for them.

4. Incorporate numbers in daily conversations

Try deliberately adding certain words in your day-to-day conversations and bring them to your little one’s notice. Some words that you can conscious use are:

  • More
  • Less
  • Next
  • Previous
  • Longer
  • Shorter
  • Heavier
  • Lighter

Activities And Games That Will Help Your Child To Learn Recognise Numbers

Now that you’ve learnt some formal techniques of how to teach number recognition to your child, let’s make this learning journey fun and relatable by organising some interesting number recognition activities for toddlers.

1. Number scavenger hunt

You’ll need:

  • Pencils,
  • rulers,
  • water bottles,
  • and other items to hide around your room, and a score sheet.

How to play

Dive up the group or the family into teams. Set a time. Ask the teams to go around the house and find as many items as they can. Once they collect these items, they must count how many. Write down the scores of each team in numerics. You can make the child write this, to practice number formation too!

2. Creating number jewelry

You’ll need: 

  • String
  • coloyrful beads
  • a numbered colour code for the beads.

How to play

Hand out a coded sheet to each student with the right amount of coloured beads and a piece of string. Make sure that your coded sheet includes a number for each different coloured bead, and a sequence of the numbers for your students to refer to. They will then have to thread the coloured beads onto the string in the correct order to complete their bracelet.

3. Baking number cookies

You’ll need: 

  • Sugar cookie dough,
  • Number shape cookie cutters

How to play

Kids will love making these number cookies, especially as they can eat them at the end! Simply flatten the cookie dough cut them into shapes of numbers using the cookie cutters. With an adult’s help, bake them and start munching!

4. Spot In The House

Number are everywhere. Let your child learn to observe and recognise numbers around the house with this fun number recognition game. Call out a number, and ask all the kids to run towards any object where they can spot this number. Calendar, clock, showpieces, price tags, TV remote controls, many such objects in the house display numbers. The one that is left last without touching the called out number is ‘out’.

5. Book Cricket

This fun game will have your kids playing endlessly. It even serves as a great sitting down tolerance activity during long journeys. For this activity, you will need a thick novel. Simply take turns to open the book and read out the page number on the right hand side. Read the last (units) digit of the number, and that’s your score. Play one round with each playing getting a turn, and compare who scored most and who scored least. If you have older children, let them practice their addition by keeping a count of the total score of all the players in a score sheet.

6. Number Flashcards

Flashcards are a highly effective way of teaching your child about numbers. There are several games you can play using flashcards, eg hold up two number cards and ask your child which one is greater.

7. Shopping Assistant

As you check off the items from your grocery shopping list, ask your child to read out the numbers from the price label of each of them. If they can’t read big numbers yet, let them read the label as rupees one-six-five instead of Rs. 165.

8. DIY Twister

This is a fun game for children to get some physical activity indoor. Mark small squares on your floor using coloured tape in a 6×6 grid. In the corner of each square, put a sticker denoting all numbers in any random order. Now, shake a dice to reveal a number. You must call out instructions like left leg on ___ (the number on the dice). The child then has to move just their left leg to that block. Next, call out “right leg on___ (roll the dice again)” Twisting and turning in order to follow all the instructions will be fun to watch and a great stretching work-out for them

Books For Teaching Number Recognition

1. Ten Black Dots

Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews focuses on what you can do with 10 black dots. When reading this book, be sure to have children predict what will come next, prompting them to count.

2. How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?

This is a strong book to teach counting to ten. Repeated readings and using prompts to encourage kids to answer will soon have them counting to ten and understanding the one-to-one concept.

3. Ten Apples Up On Top

With Dr. Seuss books, you can’t go wrong. The different characters in this book all have ten apples on their head. As you read this book, prompt the children to count the number of apples on their heads.

4. Ten Little Monkeys

This is a pattern story from a nursery rhyme about ten monkeys who are jumping on the bed. As they keep falling off one after the other, children learn to count backward to calculate the remaining monkeys.

5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Eric Carle’s most popular book among all children between 3 and 7 years of age focuses on the days of the week and counting to five. It helps children understand the concept of assigning a number to the days of the week, as well as measuring quantities of food.

6. Chicka, Chicka 1 2 3

This rhyming, pattern book supports learning the numbers upto 20 and then counting to 100 by 10. The pattern is ‘One told 2 and 2 told 3, I’ll race you to the top of the apple tree, Chicka, Chicka, 1,2,3 will there be a place for me…

Also Read:

Pre-Writing Strokes for Preschooler Kids
How to Introduce 2D Shapes to Preschoolers
Ways to Develop Pre-Reading Skills in Preschoolers and Kids



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