Number Sense

Super-Quick Finger Counting Games (ages 3+)

Materials: two hands

Each of these ideas involves quick counting with just your hands:

  • Hold up different fingers on one hand for child to count.
  • Use a combination of fingers on two hands for child to count.
  • Ask child how many fingers are down.
  • Hold up fingers and ask, "How many more to make10?"
  • Use hands and feet to count by fives.

Blast Off (ages 3+)

Materials: sidewalk chalk

1. Write the numbers 1 to 5 in a straight vertical line (like hopscotch, only one number in each row.)
2. Draw a rectangular grid around each number (similar to hopscotch.)
3. Optional: Decorate the grid like a rocket ship!
4. Start at 5 and countdown as your child jumps down each number.
5. Once your child jumps off the grid say, "Blast off!" 

Make it more challenging:

  • Make the grid larger by using numbers 1-10 or 1-20.
  • Have your child start at different numbers to change the rhythm of counting backwards. This will help your child think about the counting more.
  • Start with counting down, then somewhere in the middle shout "Switch" and have your child begin jumping and counting up. Have your child switch several times before finally getting to "Blast off!"

What's in the cup?

Materials: one cup, five small objects (beads, marbles, counters, etc.)

1. Count five objects with child.
2. Place some objects in the cup.
3. Show the rest of the objects.
4. Ask, "How many are in the cup?"
5. Repeat with different combinations until child seems bored.

Make it more challenging:

  • Use 10 objects instead of five.
  • Use two cups.  Have  some objects visible, then split the rest in two cups.  Show child one cup and have child guess what is in the remaining cup. 
  • Ask child to write an equation to represent the situation. (ex. 5 = 2 + x)

Dice War (ages 5+)

Materials: 2-4 dice

1. Each player has 1-2 dice.
2. Players roll the dice at the same time.
3. Player with the highest number of dots wins a point. If playing with 2 dice each, players will need to add together dots from dice.
4. Keep score with tallies or just play for fun.
5. Switch the game rules so that the winner has the smallest number of dots.  

Make it more challenging:

  • Change the rules so that players must subtract the smaller number of dots from the larger number.  For players in 2nd-4th grade, multiply the number of dots on each die together.
  • Have each player start with 3 dice so that players must add three numbers together to determine how many dots.