learning to count

#10: Space Math Activities and Games – 3, 2, 1, Blast Off

Interest in space is universal (chuckle, chuckle) and space math activities and games are fun ways to explore the universe of numbers. We count the ways…

space math activities and games

Somewhere, young kids discover they can say a string of numbers, make explosive noises, and blast off in all directions at top speed. Arms together above head is optional. What could be more fun? At first, kids will not say all the numbers in the correct order but they have the idea. They may not know they are counting down seconds of time but certainly realize they are getting closer to the point of no more waiting.

outside math fun and learning activities for kids

Besides counting down, hopscotch is another way to blast off. To play hopscotch, kids or adults can draw a game with chalk on a sidewalk using the numbers 1 to 10. Kids can start at the 10 end and jump backwards. When they get to the 1 they can Blast Off and run all around. If using the driveway, be careful of cars.

space math activities and games

If you have some play numbers at home, kids may want to put them in a line and say them like a countdown. Little Sister isn’t yet matching up the name with the shape of the number but she liked putting them in a line on the floor. Last month, one of the transportation activities was zooming cars on a road made of alphabet letters. Parents and caregivers can print the numbers 1 to 10 on cards and write Blast Off on another one. Little hands may like to trace them once printed. Kids can put these in countdown order and use a rocket or space vehicle instead of a car and zoom it along the road, or more accurately, the flight path.

 space math activities and games

Experiences like these help kids understand how math works. Numbers are a series sort of like steps. Numbers can go in two directions, up or down, and take us closer or farther away. As an adult are you comfortable with math? Unfortunately, both kids and adults can develop math anxiety. Playing and having fun with numbers and math ideas is one way of helping kids feel comfortable and confident. Can your child blast off the day with some space math activities and games?

Transportation Play #13: Transportation Counting Activity

Make the day count with this simple transportation counting activity that also helps to develop number sense. These are two early math skills for kids.


In urban areas, there are lots of red, yellow, and green traffic lights. You can make a traffic light counting board with a piece of paper or cardboard. Down the left side, print the numbers from 1 to 5 or for kids that are keen about numbers from 0 to 10. Across the rows, draw the appropriate number of circles for each number. Zero has no circles, one has 1 circle, etc.

To make the traffic lights, for kids beyond the everything-in-the-mouth stage, you can use red, yellow, and green buttons. Or you can use something that kids can eat, such as dried cranberries for the red and mini-Ritz crackers for the yellow. Green is a little trickier, maybe frozen green peas? We looked through our button supplies and found a dishful.

Big Sister counted and filled the circles, going in a line from left to right. Little Sister filled in the circles at the bottom corner. While Big Sister could tell the numbers when she looked at them, Little Sister had to count down from zero until she got to the name.
Counting is much more than just knowing the name of the numbers and how to say them in order. Counting means understanding the relationship between numbers and objects. Each number going up means one more object.

Number sense is an awareness of how many items for each number. For instance, two has one thing and another thing. That’s all. Two isn’t lots, it’s a small number. For kids, 10 is really lots. Some kids might notice how the number of circles in this transportation counting activity and board get bigger like stairs.

transportation counting activity

As with so many other skills, kids develop accurate counting and number sense from play experiences and everyday opportunities. Do kids need to know how to count to 10 before kindergarten? What they need is to have some familiarity with numbers so numbers do not feel strange and bewildering. This happens by such ordinary activities as counting, talking about numbers, noticing them in the neighborhood, and using them in play activities. What do you do to make your day count?


In the following article, by blogger Jenni B of DearMum, there are more ideas for early math fun.

How to Incorporate Math throughout the Day with Your Toddler

(image credit sheknows.com)
(image credit: sheknows.com)

If you asked any kid, no matter how old, what their least favorite subject in school is, the answer is most likely going to be mathematics.

Frankly, who can blame them? Even as adults, many of us still hate having to do anything math related, which is unfortunate since mathematics is one of the most important subjects that can shape our future. Study after study, researchers have shown that kindergarteners with elementary level math skills demonstrated better academic performance than the children that excelled in other areas.

While there are a myriad of mathematical art projects that combine creativity with systemic learning at elementary levels, the skills cultivated early on will set your children up for a future academic career. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a math tutor before they’re old enough for school, as there are plenty of ways to teach math throughout the day, whether you’re out shopping or simply having some playtime with the kids, without making it appear as a structured math lesson.

At the grocery store
Working with prices may be too advanced for children at a very young age, but you can improve their skills in counting numbers by helping you pick out vegetables, eggs, and any other items that can be selected in multiples. Have your kids say the numbers out loud as they pick out the food. You may even ask them to add or subtract items to get a certain total.

During playtime
Many have forgotten the importance of playtime as parents fill their kids days with sports, piano lessons and dance classes. Although there is no defined structure for playtime, this is when your kid develops a foundation for all skills learned in later years. There are loads of mathematical concepts to learn with toys and games. Prime examples include puzzles that develop spatial skills, play money that improves counting skills, and building blocks that introduce geometry skills. Simple number board games designed like Snakes and Ladders are also helpful for preschoolers, as the Phi Delta Kappan Common Core explains, “It provides multiple cues to both order of numbers and numbers’ magnitudes or how big and small numbers are in relation to one another.”

In the kitchen
An effortless way to build early math skills in our young ones, having your kids in the kitchen with you will help them understand basic math and science concepts. The main thing you as the adult need to keep in mind is using kid-friendly recipes, ones with uncomplicated measurements and ideally can be accomplished on their own (with parental supervision, of course). As they grow older, you can also teach them about time and temperature.

dearmumblog-jennifer-birchAuthor Bio: DearMum/Jenni B
DearMum is an auntie of two preschoolers that love to bake cookies with her and go on grocery trips with her. With all the time she spends with her children, she tries to incorporate learning with all the kid’s activities. Watch out for her own blog soon!

Bubble Activity #16: Counting Bubbles Math Fun

With Big Sister going to school, Little Sister has been showing more interest in paper and pencil activities. She had fun counting bubbles with this simple activity.

counting bubbles math fun


Counting bubbles outside is almost impossible. Sometimes, instead of one single bubble floating away gently, several really small ones appear and disappear before they can be counted. But even if the counting isn’t accurate, kids can practice saying the numbers.

For small children, counting starts by saying the numbers. They need lots of opportunities to count so they develop the understanding that one number refers to one thing. This is part of number sense.

Using an idea from Anna’s blog on fish bubble counting mats, another teacher-mom, we made our own. I cut out a fish from a cereal box and traced around it on card stock, drawing some circles for bubbles. Little Sister put one flat glass marble on each circle. Together, we said the numbers.

The digit is included underneath the bubbles, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as kids are past putting items in their mouth, younger children could have just one big page and put bubbles on it for some one-to-one matching (one-to-one correspondence). Older kids may like to draw their own sea creatures and bubble circles.

Another time we do this, I’ll draw the bubbles in standard patterns, such as 4 corners for the number 4, and 2 lines of 3 bubbles for the number 6. The ability to look at a group of objects and immediately tell how many is called subitize. For example, 5 is really fast to know as soon as we see 4 corners with 1 in the middle. Dominoes, dice, and decks of cards use these patterns and they are a sort of short cut to counting. It’s also a form of visualizing, or making images in the mind. Quite likely, you do this all the time, you just didn’t know there was a word for it. Neither does spell-check!

counting bubbles math fun

Whatever the words, what’s most important is that kids have opportunities to play with numbers. To make this sensory, you might want to use a bowl or container of water and let kids count the marble bubbles. *Just a caution, the clear glass is really hard to see in the clear water when it comes time to pour the water in the sink! Even one in the drain is too many.* Is this counting bubbles a play-of-the-day your child might like?

Star Wars Math Counting and Patterning

Children’s play counts when it comes to early learning and development so an idea for a play-of-the-day is Star Wars math  counting and patterning. Not having Star Wars characters and toys isn’t even a problem. We have a few but not enough to count—pardon the pun—so instead we used some glow-in-the-dark stars that came from … Continue reading Star Wars Math Counting and Patterning

Dinovember: Counting Dinosaurs and Number Sense

Number sense develops as children play with and experience numbers. Counting dinosaurs is an appealing and fun activity for young children. Dollar stores often have inexpensive bags with an assortment of dinosaurs. These can be used for counting and other fun. Kids just learning to count may not have all the names for the numbers … Continue reading Dinovember: Counting Dinosaurs and Number Sense

Halloween Math: V is for Vampires That Count

In folklore, vampires are obsessed with counting. For some Halloween math, how about kid vampires that count? Remember, Count von Count from Sesame Street? He counted everything. Perhaps, this mania for counting is why so many vampires are called Count. Whatever the play on words, counting can also be a form of play. For kids … Continue reading Halloween Math: V is for Vampires That Count

Colors of Childhood: Colors for Counting and Numbers

Colors can be part of helping kids explore some basic and critical math. Play activities can use colors for counting and numbers. Young children will explore numbers on their own using the words they have heard as they stack blocks or put small things in containers. Although it’s not accurate, they are getting the ideas … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Colors for Counting and Numbers

Some Handy Ideas for Kindergarten Readiness: Counting

1 little, 2 little, 3 little fingers can all be used for counting which is another kindergarten readiness learning and fun activity. Counting can be done anywhere and at anytime. Not only is counting an early math skill, it is also the base for number sense. As children repeat the experience of counting over and … Continue reading Some Handy Ideas for Kindergarten Readiness: Counting

Kindergarten Readiness Rocks! Counting Rocks

For some very inexpensive kindergarten readiness math fun and learning for young children, use rocks. Usually, rocks are quite easy to find and they can be fun to count. When counting, as you can, help your child point to or touch only one rock at a time. They will make mistakes as they learn how … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness Rocks! Counting Rocks