Number Recognition

Preschool number recognition is more of an early reading skill (symbols have meaning, and this symbol is a 5, and this one is an A… ) than a true math skill.  It’s when kids get the idea that a specific number symbol refers to a specific quantity of things that it becomes a math skill.  But it doesn’t really matter what you call it.  Recognizing numbers is an important skill for older preschoolers to build.  So let’s build number recognition in a play-based, developmentally appropriate way.  Let’s use fun activities, books and toys that fit that bill! (And hey, if your kids get a little bit of math thrown in there as they start to count and understand quantity… bonus!)

Number Books

Number recognition is so easy to build when you use high quality, engaging, fun books.  If your children are big fans of trucks, use truck counting books.  If they love animals, choose counting books that 

feature their favorite critters.  The image above includes some of my favorite counting books–click on it and you’ll be taken to even more!  When you use these books with kids, be sure to make it fun rather than quiz-like!  Label the numbers you see on each page–and ask your kids to help you count the corresponding items.  Expect lots of mistakes!  Remember that kids learn best through repetition and play.  So when you make it fun, they want to read it again 🙂

Number Felt Board Sets

Well, sure, I have felt sets to encourage all sorts of early learning skills! My Counting Cupcakes set builds number recognition (sorry–this set is currently out of stock). And as kids match and count the candles they use to decorate the cupcakes, they start to form an understanding of the quantity each number represents.  Yep–play is learning.  (Bonus:  This set and the monkeys below also come with lists of fun books, plus some rhymes and songs that go with the themes.  My pleasure.


My Five Little Monkeys set specifically targets number recognition, since it’s got those cute numbers on those cute monkeys’ cute tummies!  Wanna see them in all their cute jumping glory?  Here’s a video to share with your kids, that will give you an idea of how casually you can point out numbers as you play.  (PS  Subscribe to my channel to get notifications of new videos!)

Number Puzzles & Pegboards

Now, if you’ve got a puzzler or peg board lover on your hands, you’ve got a prime opportunity to reinforce number recognition.  I especially love the Melissa and Doug number puzzle and the Lauri pegboards you see pictured.  Kids actually handle the numbers (vs. just looking at 

them on a page in a book.  That way they’re learning in lots of different ways, so the learning ‘sticks’ a bit more easily.  The wooden pegboard shown here was always a favorite in my classroom, and is great for kids 2 through infinity.

Alrighty.  That’s a lot of good stuff for you to use to help your kids build that number recognition.  Of course, I also recommend you point out numbers in your day to day life.  Speed limit signs.  Numbers on the aisles in the grocery store or Target.  You’ll start to notice numbers everywhere, so help your kids notice them too.  And remember to have fun while you’re at it!

Ready to get your kids started with playful ways to build number recognition?

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