Learning about numbers through play

Recognising Numbers

Let’s go on a number hunt!

A great place to start is for children to understand that numbers are everywhere! Number hunting can be really fun; what numbers will they see in the supermarket? What numbers can they spot in their neighbourhood? What numbers are on their front door? Number hunting can become a daily game while you are out and about… before you know it they’ll be shouting out ’look a number 5!’

Extension: Take a note book and see if they can write down the numbers they have seen, or can they put a tick or a mark next to the numbers you have written for them to find.

Number hide and seek!

For this you will need a big tub of numbers, similar to magnetic fridge numbers, but if you don’t have those you can write numbers on little pieces of paper… just hide the numbers around the house. Who can find the most numbers? This is a great game for siblings. What numbers did you find?

Extension: Can they put the numbers they have found in order?

Creating numbers!

Having a go at drawing, painting or making numbers can help a child to know what each number is, because they will be spending time concentrating on it’s shape and features; for example, a ‘1’ is like a straight line but an ‘8’ is like two circles… what the child produces does not need to look exactly like the numbers at first; it is the process that matters.

Have a go at these fun activities:

  • Paint numbers with painting tools, or fingers!
  • Chalk numbers outside on the ground.
  • Make numbers with play dough.
  • Draw numbers on big pieces of paper (the back of old wrapping paper works well).
  • Draw numbers in sand with your fingers.

Extension: creating numbers without help… can you make a 2…


It’s an old classic but great for getting little ones moving with the added bonus of some number recognition practise.

Extension: use numbers 11-20 if they are already good at recognising 0-10.

Learning to write through play

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