Learning to Count

Two to Three Years Old

  • Children begin to use numbers as they hear other people using them.

Three to Four Years Old

  • Recognize and express quantities using words like some, more, a lot and another

  • Rote count to five or ten

  • Use words to describe quantities and sizes like short, long, tall, a lot, a little and big.

Four to Five Years Old

  • Start playing number games with understanding

  • Count objects from 1-10 or 1-20

  • Identify the larger of two numbers

  • Understand one-to-one correspondence up to 10

  • May start combining whole numbers up to 10

Five to Six Years Old

  • Understands concepts represented in symbolic form

  • Begin to add small numbers in their heads

  • Rote count to 100 with little confusion

  • Count objects to 20 and higher

  • Understand that numbers are the symbols for the totals of concrete things

  • Count by fives and 10’s to 100

  • Count backwards from 10

  • Decide which number comes before and after an object number


  • Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra

  • One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elenor J. Pinczes

  • Counting by Henry Arthur Pluckrose

  • Counting Antoine Poitier

  • Five Little Ducks by Pamela Paparone

  • Just Enough Carrots Stuart J Murphy

  • 1 Hunter by Pat Hutchins

  • 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc FromenthalAnno’s

  • Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno

  • The Coin Counting Book byRozanne Lanczak Williams

  • Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda

  • Duckie’s Ducklings by Frances Barry

  • The Father Who Had 10 Children by Benedicte Guettier

  • Just a Minute! by Yuyi Morales

  • M&M Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath

  • Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate



Skills Learned: One to One Correspondence, Matching Equal Numbers of Objects to Written Numbers,  Counting from 1-10


Open a file folder and draw a game board like the shown below:

Place “pom poms” in a small container next to the game board and have child place the matching number of pom poms to the correct numbered section. You can also draw dots to represent the numbers in each section. It is a lot of fun to use a clothes pin to pick up the pom poms and it also helps with hand eye coordination.



Write numbers 1-10 on brown lunch bags and on the back of each bag, draw the same number of of dots.  For example: two dots on the bag marked 2 and seven dots on the bag marked 7. Challenge your child to collect small items such as cotton balls, pom poms, buttons, paper clips, etc. and put the correct number of objects in each bag. You may start with bags 1-5 and work up to 6-10.



Write the numbers 1-10 on 5-7oz. clear plastic cups. Place 55 pom poms in a bowl and challenge your child to place the corresponding number of poms poms inside each cup. You can add some hand eye coordination practice by using a clothes pin to pick up the pom poms.


Slice Counting

Use a round piece of cardboard, construction paper or even a paper plate and draw equal lines to make it look like a sliced pizza or pie. Add varying numbers of stickers in each section such as two round stickers in one slice, four kitten stickers in the other and then write corresponding written numerals on wooden clothes pins. Have your child hook the clothes pin to the correct sticker section.


Bubble Gum Math

Fill a small plastic container with pom poms and create money cards by taping pennies to index cards or cardboard pieces (you can use empty cereal boxes). I created the cards on my computer, but you can simply tape or glue pennies, nickels, etc. to heavy cards. Turn cards upside down and each player takes a turn drawing from the pile. If the child draws a card with five pennies, they can collect five pom poms (or pieces of bubble gum) to put in their own container. (You can use small paper plates, plastic bowls, etc. for collection. To take it up a notch, you can put one dime, one nickel (15 cents) one dime, two pennies (12 cents), etc. on each card when the child is ready to be challenged. This is another game that is fun to use clothes pins to pick up the gumballs.


Math Muffin Tins

Materials: Cupcake paper liners, felt tip marker, poker chips or anything they can count and sort (pom poms are good for this one also).

Description: Write numerals 1-10 on the muffin liners and then have your child count and sort that many items into each liner.


Caps and Cans

The children will move in locomotor and non locomotor ways, use counting skills, and eye hand coordination during this preschool and kindergarten activity by Mae-Lena H.

Materials: Bottle caps, large coffee cans and a permanent marker.

Description:  With a marker,  you can number cans with dots (1-6 is a good starting point). Let children count the number of dots on each can. Then let children try to toss that many caps (bottle caps, poker chips, etc. ) into the can. Children will find this fun game among friends, seeing who can get more caps into the cans.


5 to 6 Year Old Personal Visit Plan

February 2010

Meet “Katy No-Pocket”……

Katy, a mother kangaroo who does not have a pocket, searches for a solution to her problem.  This search produces a story which has long been a favorite with children.

Character Trait

Generosity – After searching for a solution to her no-pocket problem, Katy finally meets the man with an apron full of pockets.  He gladly gives her his apron saying he can get another. We will discuss what it means to be generous and explore others in the story who displayed generosity.


Habitats – We will learn about habitats and play a file folder game where we “Take the Animals Home” to their correct habitat. We will also be matching actual photos of animals and their babies to photos in the book.


We will be learning about opposites:

  • Sad/Happy

  • On/Off

  • In/Out

  • Push/Pull

  • Awake/Asleep

  • Big/Little


Counting – We will play a counting game where your child hops like a kangaroo after drawing numbers out of Katy’s pouch and we will count the animals in Katy’s new apron.

Sequencing – Arranges five objects in order of size, from smallest to largest.


Letter K

If time permits we can practice re-telling the story using story props.

3 to 4 Year Old Personal Visit Plan

Over in the Meadow

February 2010

In a classic Appalachian counting rhyme, we visit a mother turtle, a mother fish, a mother bluebird, a mother muskrat, a mother honeybee, a mother crow, a mother cricket, a mother lizard, a mother frog, and a mother firefly. Each mother implores her babies to do what they do best: dig, swim, sing, dive, buzz, caw, chirp, bask, croak, and shine.


This counting rhyme lends an opportunity to review the words that rhyme with numbers 1-10 in the book.  We will read each set of rhyming words, then play the “Over in the Meadow Rhyme” file folder game together.


Your child will explore the color wheel and discuss the colors of each animal. We will re-visit the book and see how many colors we can find for each animal.


Habitats – We will talk about each animal in the story, pointing out their habitat and play the “Habitat” matching game.


Drama – We will discuss all the different things the animals did such as swim, caw, bask, etc. as we flip through each page. Afterward, we will all play the animal action card game.


Counting – We will play the puzzle/animal counting game by matching the number to the correct amount of animals (corresponds with book).

4 to 5 Year Personal Visit February 2010

Four to Five Year Olds

February 2010

Say Hello to a Childhood Favorite…

“Corduroy” by Don Freeman

Synopsis: This is a story about a special friendship between a teddy bear named Corduroy and a little girl named Lisa. While Corduroy is searching for his lost button in the department store he comes across many things that he thinks he would like to have. However, when Lisa buys Corduroy, he finds what he really wants, which is a home. and a friend.

I will read Corduroy using story props.


Friendship – Corduroy is looking for a friend. He finds a good friend in Lisa. We will be talking about friendship and what makes a good friend. I will ask your child to name at least one friend that he/she plays with.


Homes and Habitats – Corduroy finds a friend and a home. We will talk about what makes a family and a home and learn some simple Bear Facts by making a mini book.

Social Studies

Saving – Lisa sees Corduroy in a department store and wants to have him. Her mother tells her, “Not today, I’ve already spent too much”.  Lisa quietly goes home, but later the story says she checks her piggy bank and finds she has enough money to buy him. After asking her mother’s permission, she uses her money, returns to the store and purchases him. We will discuss what a piggy bank is,  talk about saving and make a simple piggy bank together.


Drama – Act out action scenes in the story:

  • looking

  • climbing down

  • tugging

  • flying off the bed

  • running

  • sewing

  • hugging


We will read “Corduroy’s Day” (a counting book) before doing math activities.

He/she will do one or more of the following depending on time, skill and age level

Counting – Count number of beds and lamps on page 14 and 15.

Button Math Box

Sorting – Sort buttons by color, number of holes, size, shape, etc.

Patterns – Complete patterns using button math box game.

Sequencing – Put lamps in order from smallest to largest.


Re-defining a story – I will tell a story using Corduroy as a pattern.  Perhaps there is a boy who has been wanting an animal or a fire truck, etc.  He is told he cannot have it.  He asks later if he can buy it for himself, etc.   Your child will be intrigued with hearing the same type of story but with a different characters and possible outcome.  He may want to make up an ending for the story himself!

These types of interaction are valuable as creative thinking skills and learning to love stories and story telling.

Re-telling a story – If time permits, I will allow the child to use “Corduroy character story props” to re-tell the story.


You can use it to play MANY educational games with your child  …….



A great game to start with is a homemade version of the matching game. Just turn the cards face down on a flat surface. The whole deck can be used or just pick out the numbered cards. Once they are face down, the idea is to find two cards that have the same number. If a match isn’t found when two cards are turned over, they must be placed face down again and the next player tries to find a match. Each time a pair is found the match finder collects them. The player who collects the most cards wins. When playing with younger children, it’s best to start out with fewer cards. This way it is easier to remember what cards are seen and where they are located. To add variety to the game, it would be fun to play with only kings, queens and jacks.  This version could be called the royal match game.



This game is played with a regular deck of playing cards. It is great for reinforcing the concept of greater than/less than. It is best played with two players. Have each child (or you and your child) draw one card from a deck of cards that are turned upside down. Whoever gets the highest number gets to keep both cards.  You may want to start by only playing with half a deck and using only numbered cards.



Another simple card game would involve collecting cards to make a sequence. All players would be dealt five cards and the remaining cards would be placed face down in the center of the table. Each player would pick two cards from the deck and discard two cards from their hand, trying to get a sequence of five numbers in a row. The game would continue with players drawing and discarding until a player finally gets five in a row. If the playing deck is used up and there is no winner, the discard pile is then shuffled and used to continue with the game. For older children, or to make the game more challenging, making the sequence all in one suit would be necessary.



Preschoolers love to play with cards and can easily identify shapes. A card game involving just the suits on the cards would be fun for them to play. Since their hands are small and it’s hard to hold cards in them, it would be best to deal out five to ten cards and place them on the table in front of them. Having the remaining cards face down in the middle of the table. Each child would take a turn picking a card from the deck and turning it over. Next they would look at the cards that are face up in front of them and find a shape that matches the one that they just picked from the deck. Then place their card on top of the card they just turned over. If no match were found they would have to pick a card from the face down pile and place it in front of him or her. Whoever can get rid of their cards first is the winner. Another way this game can be played is by matching colors instead of shapes. The game would be easier and move faster, a bonus to any small child.




What You Need:

1. A deck of regular playing cards – only use the numbered cards, cards with 2 through 10. For younger preschoolers, start with only cards 2 – 6 and add higher number cards in later games as preschoolers increase their number knowledge.

2. A sheet of paper for each player’s score sheet

3. Stickers – Use any kind of stickers you have. Circle dot stickers work well.

4. A pen or marker

Game Preparation

1. Remember to use only the numbered cards from the playing deck. Only use cards with numbers 2 – 10 or the numbers that your preschooler can recognize.

2. Draw a heart shape on each piece of paper. This will be the score sheet for each player so try to make all of the drawn hearts the same size.

3. Give each player the same assortment of stickers. If you are using a sheet of stickers on which the stickers are different sizes, then try to give each player the same sheet of stickers.

How to Play

1. Shuffle the cards and place them face down the table.

2. Players lay their score sheets in front of them.

3. On each turn, a player draws a card from the deck and turns it over face up in front of them. The number on the card determines the number of stickers that players stick onto their score sheet. Stickers must be placed on the outline of the heart.

Example – If a player turns over a 5 card, the player places five stickers on the heart outline of their score sheet.

4. A player is finished when the heart outline is completely covered on the player’s score sheet. No lines must be showing through the stickers.



What you’ll need:

  • Deck of cards

  • Bean bags or socks rolled into balls (or something soft to toss)

  • Laundry basket or box

Set up: You’ll need a deck of cards with the picture cards and jokers removed. If your child is only ready for 1 or 2 #’s remove any unwanted cards and just play with what you need.

Note: You can make your own cards with index cards. Be sure to draw objects on the cards for your child to count. It is helpful for beginners to see the number of objects that corresponds to any given number.

How to play:

Allow the youngest to go first.

Player one: Pick a card and then count the objects depicted on the card. When finished counting, have the player pick that many bean bags or socks from the pile. (Example: if they pick the # 2, have them count 2, then pick two bean bags or sock balls.)

Player two: Pick a card, count the objects, and take that many bean bags or sock balls.

Once both players have their bean bags/sock balls it is time for some fun! Each player will toss their objects into the laundry basket or box in turn. If your child has 2 objects to toss, let him toss them both. Then it is the next player’s turn.

Collect the tossed objects and start again!

Add cards as your child gains confidence. This game can also be played with dice.



Remove set of hearts from a deck of cards. Cut in half and have children match the cards together.


You can also use a standard deck of cards for the following…….

  • Sorting – Sort deck of cards by suit, numbers, color, etc.

  • Adding – Use lower numbered cards for adding. Example, pull cards 2 and 5, add them together.

  • Placement – Place card 5 and 7 leaving a space in the middle. See if your child can find the card that goes in the middle.

  • Patterns – Use suits for patterning. Example of an A, B pattern…. Club, Heart, Club, Heart, Club, Heart. Example of an A, B, C pattern…… Club, Heart, Diamond, Club, Heart, Diamond.