Numbers, numbers, everywhere! Learning to count involves the development of more skills than meets the eye. Some things children learn about numbers, in their early years include:

Often, however, a young child’s exposure to numbers is limited to only one aspect of number – the cardinal aspect of number; the side of number that represents sets of things.

It is helpful to expose young children to number line activities so that when negative numbers, fractions and decimals, real and irrational numbers are introduced later on in their lives, they have a framework in which to understand those numbers. After all, any number lies between two other number values.

Here’s a simple math game to help children develop an early understanding of the number line:

Numbers Washing Line

You will need:

• String
• Number cards 1-20, or using whatever number range you are currently working with
• Two chairs
• Pegs

To play, tie the string up between two chairs. Children then peg the number cards in the right order on the washing line.

Some suggested variations to the game:

• Hang the numbers up, backwards from a given number
• Take out a number from the line and ask them what number is missing
• Take several of the number cards out, and ask children to place them back in their right places, along the number line.
• Incorporate the language “between”, “more” and “less”. E.g. 8 is between 5 and 10; 8 is more than 5; 8 is less than 10.
• Play, guess the secret number. You choose a number and tell them it’s between a given range (e.g. The secret number is between 5 and 10). They have to guess the secret number. Every time they guess an incorrect number, the number comes off the number line. Continue guessing until the secret number is chosen.

It’s hard to believe that these guys are now five and about to start school next year. Even though it’s been exhausting, time really does fly. Moments are but a breath; here one moment and gone the next. Short, simple ways to learn through play, is central to how I enjoy these precious early years with my children.

More Activities for Preschoolers

Three to Five: Playful Preschool is stuffed to the brim with tried, tested and loved playful learning ideas for preschoolers. There are 25+ ideas for preschoolers, ten printable resources and additional links to over 50 more activities. A great resource for parents. Download your copy here.

N&M: 5 years, 5 months
October 2013

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