Look who’s counting!

by Jacqueline Harding. Learning to recognise numbers and count can be great fun for toddlers. Here are some tips for helping them along...

Boy with jigsaw puzzle


The joy - and concentration - on a young child’s face when they have learned to count from 1 to 5 is priceless. But how can parents and carers make numbers real for children so that they build on their developing numeracy skills?

How CBeebies can help

Watching the superhero animated Numberjacks is a great way for your child to have fun with numbers. They can practise their number recognition skills and then continue the fun with simple activities such as going on a number hunt around the home.

Then, if you’re stuck for other ideas for numeracy games, you and your child could have a go at the Numberjacks games on the CBeebies website.

Tamba’s Abacus is a wonderful resource for your child to practise their counting skills. You can find it in the 'Play Games' section of the Tikkabilla pages.

And don’t forget to have a go at the Counting Quiz which is one part of the Show Me Show Me Game on the CBeebies website. This fun quiz tests your child’s ability to count objects from 1-10.

How to make a magic moment

Making number puppets is a winner at this age. Just have five old socks at the ready, plus some card, scissors, paints and glue.

Draw five pairs of bright eyes for each of the puppets and help your child colour them in. Glue a pair on each sock. Then draw out large numerals from one to five – all large enough to become the main body of each puppet. Help your child colour them in. Glue on and your number puppets are ready to make their appearance at a puppet theatre!

Try making a theatre out of an old sheet draped over a couple of chairs. Get your child to announce or shout out the puppet number as it makes its appearance on stage.

Print this article

Want more fun?

See all fun activities

Top tips

  • Try playing simple
  • number games – e.g. you could count the number of post boxes on a car journey
  • or ask your child to shout out any numbers they recognise on front doors as you
  • walk along a street.Number rhymes can be a lot
  • of fun! Why not teach some to your child? You could start off with 'One, two/ Buckle
  • my shoe…'Why not place small
  • pieces of card with large numbers written on them on each of your fingers? Then
  • make the fingers take a number walk!Draw
  • large numbers on card and ask your child to go and sit on each number as you
  • call it out!

Expert opinion

When you see the world through your child’s eyes you suddenly realise that numbers are everywhere. There are masses of opportunities to play ‘spot the number’ - for example, when waiting in boring queues or on bus trips.

Jacqueline Harding, Child Development Expert

Parent's tale

When my little one could start walking up and down the stairs, I would always count the number of stairs he was climbing. When he was 18 months old, he could count to 12. This counting tip came from my mum.

Katie, from Colchester

Answers from the web

More from the BBC

Elsewhere on the web

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.