Activities to Help Kindergarten Students Recognize Numbers

Learning to recognize and name numbers takes practice.
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Kindergarten math teaches a variety of skills. Creating patterns, identifying shapes, recognizing coins and oral counting are all necessary parts of the kindergarten math curriculum. However, number recognition is also crucial. Number recognition should not be confused with counting since it does not involve reciting numbers in order or one-to-one correspondence. Instead, the focus is on identifying and naming numbers without regard for the order in which they are presented. Teaching children to recognize numbers at an early age provides a basis for the number skills used in later grades.

1 Reading Number Books

There are many books that focus on numbers and counting. Read one aloud to the class, stopping on each page to talk about the numbers represented. Help students make connections by discussing the shapes of the numbers, reminding them that "one" looks like a straight line, "two" has a curve on top and slides across the bottom and "three" appears to be two half-circles. Continue by asking what they see when they look at the other numbers. Have them practice making the numbers in the air as you read each page. Then pass out cards labeled 1 through 10. As you reread the book, have the kindergartners hold up their card when they see a matching number in the book.

2 Number Creations

For a hands-on activity that allows the students to explore numbers, laminate large cards labeled 1 through 10. Pass out the cards along with pieces of cereal. Have them trace each number with their fingers. Then use the cereal to recreate the number. This can also be done with play-doh or other items that are easy for children to manipulate. Some kindergartners may not be developmentally ready to create the numbers on their own. Instead, have these children place the manipulatives on top of the printed numbers so they can learn the shape of each numeral.

3 Classroom Number Hunt

Use flashcards to remind students of the numbers they have been learning. Assign partners and give each pair a flashcard. Have the children look around the room for numbers that match their card. When they find a match, have them stand by it until every group has located their number. If you see students struggling, guide them to a match. Have the class look around the room and check their work, offering praise for a job well done. Then they can exchange cards and do the activity again.

4 Number Concentration

Create a concentration game out of laminated construction paper or playing cards. You should have two of each number. Put the children in pairs, turn the cards over and have a student choose two cards. Teach kindergartners to use the words, "I have one" or "I have ten" to help practice naming the numbers. If the numbers match, they can keep the pair. If not, it is the other child's turn. The winner is the one with the most cards at the end of the game.

Billie Wager has been a public school teacher since 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, both from Ottawa University. Wager is licensed to teach kindergarten through ninth grade in Kansas.