Number Activities To Teach Counting!


We all want to support our children to be confident mathematicians, right? But how exactly do you do that? And what exactly do our children need to know?


Well, keep reading, because I am about to tell you just that and some FUN activities you can do to support them!








First up, let's start with exactly what the early year's curriculum says children should learn. It says children should:

  • Have a deep understanding of numbers to 10

  • Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5

  • Automatically recall number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts)

  • Some number bonds to 10

  • Some double facts.

Wow, that's a lot of jargon, isn't it? But don't worry because it's actually pretty straight forward. Each of the following activities will help you to support your little one in all of these skills!


Have a deep understanding of numbers to 10


This means your child can see a number, for example 7, and not only recognise it, but its value and compare these values to other numbers.

Arlo and I have been learning this skill with plenty of practical games.

In this one, I hid some number cards around the garden (keep reading to get the free download link). Arlo's job was to select a number and hunt the garden for the matching one.


Alternatively, you could place the numbers on the floor (or write them across the pavement in chalk) and ask your little one to run and stand on the correct number.


Once they are confident at recognising the numbers, it is time to move on to their value. In the activity shown here, Arlo is adding blobs of playdough to represent the number shown.


You can use any loose parts you have at home (for example, chickpeas, Tickit loose parts or buttons).


If you are a Catkin Club member, our selection of count and cover cards are perfect for this!



How to subitise.

What might sound complicated is actually pretty simple! Subitising means recognising how many objects are there without having to individually count them. For example, if you saw three bananas on the table, you would know there were three without counting them.


You can only subitise small numbers (typically up to 5). Even as adults, we would need to count if there were thirteen bananas on the table!


To practice this skill I used a mixture of cards which show both spots, fingers and written numbers. The idea is to select a card and match the same numbers together. Over time, Arlo will gain more confidence and need to rely less on counting. This is a skill that requires a lot of repetition to master! (The cards shown here are available to download free for members of Catkin Club).



Automatically recall number bonds up to 5 (and some number bonds to 10)

Number bonds are simply pairs of numbers that add together to make 5 (e.g. 1 + 4)

If you haven't tried this activity before you can grab our free printable resource!

Click Here

Simply cut the cards 0-5 and laminate (to make them longer lasting). Hide one of each card inside a sensory base like rice or chickpeas and lay the other down flat on a table or floor. The idea is to select a card and match it to its number bond.

So, if they select a number 2 they would put it with the number 3 because 2+3 makes 5! For number bonds to 10, cut the cards 0-10 and repeat!

This would also work as a scavenger hunt if you want to get in those 1000 hours outside!



Some double facts.


Finally, children are taught to have some understanding of double facts. This would only be simple doubles (for example double 2 = 4).


A great way to do this is to count out a number twice. For example, on the image shown Arlo would count the number shown on the card plus place a chickpea on to