Teaching Number Recognition To Preschoolers And Numeracy Resources For Parents

Teaching Number Recognition To Preschoolers and Resources For Parents.png

Helping preschoolers to recognise and identify numbers doesn’t have to be a formal affair. Preschoolers come across numbers repeatedly in their daily life. Over the years I have learned to use these as learning opportunities, to encourage exploration of number recognition and other basic mathematical concepts.
Number Recognition  - number order

In a very early post on this blog I wrote about 10 Preschooler Early Learning Activities You Can Plan Into Your Day. It highlighted one of my preschoolers favourite activities – The Letterbox Game. As we walk home from taking the older children to school each morning, we take it in turns to say the numbers on the letter boxes as we walk past.

Number Recognition - moneyIn the beginning if we saw a letter box that had a number like 20, the preschooler would say 2 – 0. As the preschooler begins to recognise more numbers beyond, 0 – 9, the game is extended and I help the preschooler learn the names of these numbers like twenty. I stay at each stage as long as the child is happy to play along. My current preschooler has a love of numbers, so loved learning number form 10 – 20 and then very quickly we were not only reading numbers on letterboxes, but anything around us that had a number on it like money and speed signs.

Preschooler Number recognition
Just recently following the lead of the preschooler we have extended the game further as he wanted to know how to say “big” numbers like 326. He has always loved the hedge with the number carved into it which we walk past on the way home. It is amazing what can inspire kids to want to learn. So we starting reading the number 326 like three hundred and twenty six.

Number Recognition for Preschoolers -  number plates.
Once we had moved on to these “big” numbers, the preschooler wanted to say more big numbers, but the houses we walk past every day are generally numbered between 1 – 20. The preschooler then keenly observed, that car number plates have three numbers also, so we are now on to reading the number plates of the cars we walk past.

I love participating in my kids learning, following their lead and providing them with stimuli to fill their little minds. With numbers everywhere you look there is no need for flashcards or drilling, early numeracy can easily become just a part of your daily life.

How do you introduce number recognition to your preschooler?

More Numeracy Resources:

The 36 page PDF document – Early childhood literacy and numeracy: Building good practice is a fantastic resource for parents. While it is primarily written for use by professional practitioners in preschools and child care centres it is still a great read and resource for parents who want to support their young children’s literacy and numeracy development. It has examples which look at both literacy and numeracy concepts like:

‘Grouping things together’ is about noticing if something is the same or different

What we do and what it means
Mum: Adele, come and help Mummy with the laundry.
Adele picks up a sock.
Mum: Oh good. You’ve found the other one?

Children learn to group things together when they notice if something is the ‘same’or ‘different’.
Lots of experiences with ‘same and different’ help children later on with describing how something may be different (eg has three more), rather than just how things look.

You can also try these for more inspiration on bringing maths into the everyday with your preschooler:


  1. says

    I have a deep love of the dvds from They Might Be Giants – both Here Comes the 123s and Here Comes the ABCs. Master Two has almost mastered the alphabet, can count to 12, and I can have a shower in the morning again, or hang up the washing alone, or get dishes done in peace. And because each disc only goes for half an hour, I don’t feel guilty because he is sitting in front of the box all day.

    The best bit is, older kids like Master Six, and Miss Four (and Mummy!) still like the songs, even if they are past that learning level. And Master Two loves watching Here Comes Science, even though it’s a bit beyond him right now.

    • says

      I didn’t know there was a They Might Be Giants DVD. I have some of their songs from a friend, but will definitely investigate where I can get a copy of the DVD. Thanks for the tip off!

  2. says

    This is so true, its one of those things that we do almost subconsciously isn’t it, but if you are made aware of the process you can incorporate it into everyday life and make learning FUN!

  3. says

    We love reading letterboxes and speed signs here too, and even though she has trouble counting to 60, 70, 80 or 100 Princess easily recognizes these numbers as we drive along. We also have some number posters for her, so even though she skips 14 every time she counts aloud, she can visually recognize it, and all of the other numbers up to 20, when she sees them. Numbers are of course everywhere, so it is not surprising, I guess, how quickly the visual image is absorbed, certainly a lot earlier than the understanding of what a group of objects of that number looks like.

  4. says

    We read letterboxes here too! My 2-year-old only recognises “0”, “1” and “2” but we seem to be able to read at least one number on many letterboxes with just these 3 digits.

    I like that hedge too!

  5. says

    Ooh! I love it!

    In term three we still have 4 students that have no number recognition whatsoever so to hear your preschooler having a love of number is fantastic! And I am in love with the ideas that you came up with. This would be something I would write on homework, “With your parents walk around a street and take turns saying the numbers that you find”. Fun and connects home and school!

    I must go and look at those links when it isn’t so late!

    Fantastic post Nic!

  6. Lisa says

    We bought our daughter a numbers jigsaw puzzle and she now knows her numbers, if you ask her to bring you the number 4 she will :)

    She also knows that 6 and 9 are not the same number, one has got horses on it and the other has got balls on it :)

  7. says

    Some great links. Thanks. We’ve been having fun practicing addition using the numbers on car number plates. When that gets boring we make silly sentences from the letters on the number plates :D