Active Ways to Teach Numbers

monster number mats

Whether you are a preschool, Kindergarten or ESL teacher, these strategies will help you teach numbers in an active and exciting way. Teaching numbers is made up of a few different things. They are:

Counting: Being able to count in order. 1, 2, 3….

Number Recognition: Being able to name “three” when you see a 3. Being able to name “five” when you see a 5.

One-to-One Correspondence: Being able to look at one object and say “one”. Being able to look at five objects and say “five”. The child may need to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but they can recognize that their are five objects. This goes the other way too. If someone says “five” or holds up the number 5, the child can place 5 objects infront of them.

Each of these skills are important in and of themselves, and together they create a holistic view of numbers.

So how do you teach these number skills? Check out the ideas below to start with. I have a complete unit in my TPT store. Just click on the picture below if you’re interested.


I use flashcards to help students learn to recognize and name the different numbers. You can also give students a stack of number flashcards and have them place the numbers in order. Later, hold up one flashcards and have students count out that number of items. Get my free set of flashcards for numbers 1-10 below.

Number Puzzles

Number puzzles help students practice ordering numbers and also recognize numbers in their numeric form. You can find free number puzzles is a lot of different themes. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bug number puzzles 1-10

Summer number puzzles 1-10

Farm number puzzles 1-20

Winter theme puzzles 1-20

You can also find number puzzles that skip some numbers. These can be used to teach counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s.

Practice Counting Everything!

Any items can be used to count. Count student’s favorite toy, count mini erasers in different designs, count the number of doors you walk by on your way from the classroom to lunch.

You can find cool number mats for almost any theme. The monster theme number mats below are from preschool-play I’ve found ice cream number mats, apple tree number mats and Christmas number mats.

monster number mats

I also love making number pizzas with my students. We practice counting different number of toppings together before each one gets to create their own pizza and count the toppings.

*This pizza activity and MORE are part of my numbers mini unit clicking the picture below to check it out.

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