Learning Numbers

We happen to not be fans of early education so we never did anything in particular to teach our son to count. We also never tried teaching him numbers until he started showing interest. According to my old journal entries, he could count to 3 in both languages at 25 months, and up to 10 in English (and 6 in Russian) at 2.5. Last week I accidentally found out that he could count to 15 in Russian, and today he counted to 20.

Last year, I bought him this set of foam numbers and letters:
(most of the photos are affiliate links that lead you straight to the product on Amazon)
Turtle had great fun playing with these numbers in the tub and sometimes asked what they were called but never remembered our answers. It was obvious that he wasn’t making a connection between an idea and its graphic equivalent.

Now when I approached the topic with a degree of seriousness, there is definite progress. The main idea of how to organize the subject came from this blog of a KG teacher.

Here’s the idea: we take one number a week. For the whole week, I have the number itself, a picture of this number shown on fingers, a numeric line from 0 to this number, a ten frame, and the name of the number hanging on the wall.

We also have a basket on the shelf where we put a foam number from the set I showed above and a number from this wooden puzzle from Ikea (I painted ours):

Day 1.
I show the number and say its name. Then we try to show it on our fingers. Turtle takes the numbers from the basket and explores them and I bring his attention to the fact that you can write the same number in slightly different ways (this turned out to be important for us – my boy gets upset if his number doesn’t looks like the one I wrote).
Then we open our numbers work book, count the objects on the page, and I trace the number 3 times while naming it. Turtle follows suit. This books is amazing. My 3.5-year-old loves it, and I caught my 1-year-old trying to trace numbers as well. It’s a real bummer it only goes to 10.

After this, Turtle learns first to trace and then to write the number on a laminated tracing sheet (I’ve attached a link below). When he is done, we hang this sheet on the wall as well.

Day 2.
This is the day when we pull out the beads! We have these:

and these
20 & 30mm
There are tons of things one can do with beads. For example, we are working with number 5. Usually, I begin my asking Turtle to find 5 red blocks, then 5 yellow cylinders, etc.. Then I take out several groups of beads, e.g.: 3 yellow cubes, 6 blue spheres, and 2 green cubes and ask him to add or take away enough to make them groups of 5.
Sometimes I ask him to choose 3 numbers cards and place an appropriate number of beads on each one.

We usually use these tools with our round beads. He loves them!

Day 3.
On this day, Turtle makes a play-dough number, fills up the ten frame and puts apples on the tree.
 I din’t help with this one at all
Then he jumps on the numeric line (both literally – on the floor, and figuratively – drawing on the line that’s hanging on the wall).

Some other things he can do at any time:
* attach numbered clothespins to the appropriate sector (the link to the printable can be found in our “Farm” post)

* attach clothespins to the appropriate number on the card

* play this game (it’s basically a memory game with numbers):

* play with this puzzle (it’s self-correcting and includes some basic sums as well):

* play various math-related games with Lego (builds towers from a certain number of blocks, repeats patterns, etc.).

* practice writing numbers in his little tracing book I made. We keep the book in the car together with a washable marker. Every week, I  add a new page.

Obviously, there are tons of other things one can do. Our biggest limitation is the younger sister who is at the age when everything goes into the mouth. That’s why I have to keep my urge to buy some cute counters. Even working with beads is stressful. Still, I am planning to buy these soon. I love that they are transparent!

I’m not quite decided on what to do after we’re done with 10. We may continue to 20 but at a faster speed or try adding and subtracting. I’ll keep watching my boy and his interest.

And here are the useful links. Everything is free to print!
Number tracing (the one he does on day 1) – http://grow-clever.com/2016/02/uchimsya-pisat-tsifry-13-rabochih-listov/

Worksheets (I cut these up for our number wall) – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Numbers-Galore-0-100-210588

Little tracing book – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Number-Tracing-Mini-Flip-Book-333583

Play dough mats – http://lifeovercs.com/free-dough-mats-for-counting-to-10/

Lovely number cards (we don’t use them because I made my own but they’re neat!) – http://www.tipsfromatypicalmomblog.com/2013/08/teach-kids-numbers-free-printable.html

We haven’t used these awesome worksheets because I found them a bit too late. I am planning to use them for review in the future – http://www.themeasuredmom.com/free-number-worksheets-1-10/ and http://www.themeasuredmom.com/free-worksheets-for-numbers-11-20/ This site has lots of great ideas.


Montessori Number Work – such a wonderful book, feels great to the touch as well. Number from 1 to 10, on one side of the pages there are objects to count, on the other side – there’s the sandpaper number itself.
First Numbers – this one will work for younger kids as well. It has little grooves instead of sandpaper.
Doggies – a favorite “counting and barking” book
123 – a counting book with silly illustrations
A Counting Book with Billy & Abigail – a poem about siblings (?) who count everything.

Also, I made these cards:

The base is smooth cardstorck, the number is made of linen paper. They are laminated and the number is great for tracing due to it being thicker and textured. This is a compromise between the traditional Montessori cards with sandpaper and having a baby who eats and breaks everything. If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to make some for a donation + shipping cost.


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