9 Ways To Teach Numbers To Toddlers (2024)

3, 2, 1, Ready or not you’re about to learn how to teach your kids numbers!

Introducing numbers at an early age will set your kids up with a great start in math.

But recognizing numbers is hard for a toddler because some numbers look similar. For example, many children have trouble telling the difference between 6 & 9 and 1 & 7.

So how can you teach your toddler to recognize the differences between numbers 1-10?

Take a look at my 9 simple strategies to help you on your journey of teaching your child about the numbers!

Strategy #1. Play With Number Toys

It’s a proven fact; kids learn best when they play!  Hands-on learning is by far the best way for kids to learn their numbers because they can manipulate an object themselves.

But you can’t just count out loud to your toddler and expect them to recognize numbers. Playing with toys allows them to see, touch, and help them understand what each number means.

Here are some of the BEST learning toys I’ve come across to help you along your journey in teaching your toddler!

Most of these toys don’t say the numbers out loud, so your involvement in playing with these toys is crucial for them to learn!

A. Montessori Wood Block Puzzle Set

Montessori Number Puzzle

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This toy is my personal favorite for older toddlers and preschoolers. It has numbers and rings to count for each number so that it can be used for several years!

B. Melissa and Doug Number Puzzle

Numbers Puzzle

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This is my son working on this puzzle! It is a little bit simpler, which is excellent for younger toddlers! Under each number, there are objects to count.

C. Bath letters and numbers

Bath Numbers and Letters

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Bath time is a fabulous opportunity to review numbers! Toddlers love sticking the numbers on the bath walls. When children get older, you can spell sight words with these letters too!

D. Lego Duplo My First Number Train

Lego train

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Does your toddler love building or playing with trains? Have fun working together to build this number train! This toy helps toddlers recognize numbers and count in order 1-9.

E. Sesame Street Playskool Cookie Monster’s On The Go Numbers

Elmo On The Go Numbers

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This is a great toy to take along with you if your going to a restaurant or going to someone else’s house. It is a number puzzle, and there are colored cookies(10) that you can count.

F. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Mat

Leapfrog # mat

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Since I’m a physical education teacher, I love getting my kids up and moving, so this toy is one of my favorites! This interactive learning mat asks children to do different locomotor movements to each number, animal or musical instrument.

Need activities to go along with some of the number toys you have?

Take a look at my 23 SIMPLE NUMBER RECOGNITION ACTIVITIES article to find exciting activities to do with your kids to help them learn numbers.

Strategy #2. Count Every Day

Counting out loud daily is imperative because it’s a different skill than just learning to recognize what a number looks like.

2-year-olds will start by recognizing the numbers, and then they will gradually begin to understand what each number means.

When toddlers can count how many objects are given to them, they understand what that number means. For example, if you give your child 4 cheerios, they can count to 4, and they recognize the number 4 when they see it, they understand what the number 4 means.

The great thing about this strategy is that you can count anything that you have laying around the house!

Does your child like cars? Set up a race track and count how many cars are in the race!

Do they like coloring? Get out their favorite coloring book and count how many markers or crayons they are using.

Does your 2-year-old like to play dress-up? Separate the clothes and the accessories into piles and count how many of each thing they have to choose from!

The possibilities are endless!

Strategy #3. Read Number Books

There are so many fantastic books to help teach toddlers numbers. I have listed a few books below that we own that look specifically at numbers 1-10. Each of these books engages children differently.

Even if your toddler doesn’t like to sit and read stories, these books will entertain them because they are interactive.

While you are reading, point out each number to your child, count with them, and talk about the pictures.  Make sure to ask your toddler questions to check for understanding (I have some examples on how to do this in the next section!) 

A. Simple First Words Let’s Say Our Numbers

Your child can learn their numbers and how to count quickly by adding this book to your collection! They can learn how to match by looking at a picture and pressing the same number that’s on the page.

B. Ten Little Ladybugs

This book is one of my children’s favorite books! Both kiddos loved counting the ladybugs on each page!

C. Baby Touch and Feel Numbers

2-year-olds LOVE to play with sensory toys. This book has a touch and feel feature that toddlers will enjoy! It helps with number identification and counting!

D. Goodnight Numbers

Do you remember Winnie from The Wonder Years? Danica McKellar is the author of Goodnight Numbers.

Goodnight Numbers Books

This book focuses on how numbers and counting can be a part of everyday life!

Strategy #4. Check For Understanding

You will never know how much your toddler is taking in until you start asking them questions.

I think you’ll be surprised. I stated earlier that toddlers are like little sponges. They are listening to everything your saying.

Checking for understanding will open your eyes to see what your toddler has learned from you. Take a look at this video below to see an example of one way I check for understanding for number recognition.

YouTube video

*The toy featured above is a Crayola My First TouchPad. It is an excellent way to check for understanding because you can mix the numbers up to see if they are grasping the information.*

One thing you may have noticed by watching the video is that I do my check quickly. My son is 18 months old, and as you can imagine, his attention span is not very long. You see at the end of the video; he is checked out. 🙂

When toddlers start not to be interested in your questions anymore, don’t push it.  Try again later.

Wondering when you should start checking for understanding?

Here’s an example of when I knew it was time to start asking questions.

My son LOVES puzzles. Once he was attempting to put the pieces of the puzzles into a spot, I started telling him what each number was when he picked them up. I would guide him on where each number should go.

Eventually, he started putting the numbers in the correct spot on his own. Once he was able to do that, I began to check for understanding, “Where is the 2?” or “Show me the 5.”

You can start checking for understanding at any time. It’s never too early to start asking your toddler questions.

Another thing to note when checking for understanding is to use different toys or objects. You don’t want your toddler to memorize one toy because they may just be going off memory instead of knowing the numbers.

Strategy #5. Get Active

Does your toddler like to relax and sit around all day? NO. I’ve NEVER heard any parent say that. 

Toddlers are busy, and they want to move around and explore this fantastic world!

I am a physical education teacher, and I’m very passionate about my children staying active. I enjoy incorporating some learning activities while we are playing games.

Here are some examples of how you can keep your kids active and learning at the same time!

  • Have your toddler dribble the basketball as many times as they can while you count, try to have them beat their score by doing this several times in a row. By doing this activity, your 2-year-old will be working on the gross motor skill of dribbling.
  • Blow up a balloon and have your toddler try to keep it up in the air by batting or kicking it. Count how many times they can do so before it hits the floor. This activity is great for eye-hand coordination and gross motor skills. 
  • Practice locomotor skills by writing the numbers 1-10 with sidewalk chalk outside and ask the child to jump, skip, leap, hop, gallop, run, or side slide to a specific number.

Want to see how this is done? Check out this video of my daughter, who is in preschool doing this activity! 

YouTube video

There are so many benefits that your children will get from being physically active. By completing some of these activities, they will increase their physical health, learn physical skills, and be learning their numbers at the same time!

Strategy #6. Make learning numbers fun!

Who remembers that teacher from high school that talked straight from their notes without any questions or fun activities? 

I sure do!! Think about that when you are teaching your toddlers. They will get bored just like you did; a variety of learning games will keep them eager to learn.

Toddlers will be excited to create something new and spend time with you as well. It’s a win, win! Below are some examples of crafts that we have done that were successful


Pom Pom counting

We sorted these pom poms by color and counted how many of each that we had. Pom Poms are so great for counting, sorting, learning colors, and creating art projects!

B. Get their hands dirty!

L Paint Numbers

My daughter and son both made aquariums with Crayola Kids Paint and Do-A-Dot Painters and markers! We counted how many tentacles the octopus and jellyfish have and how many fish and turtles there were in their creations!

C. Do-A-Dot Markers

This painting project was a little less messy. Q-tips, do-a-dot painting, and cotton ball painting are much cleaner ways to do a project.

Paint Numbers

My son has a blast working with this dot-a-dot number painting activity. I had to help him quite a bit, but it kept his interest for an extended period of time!

7. Listen To Number Songs

Let’s face it; kids love watching videos.

Youtube can be such an excellent resource for learning videos and songs.

In my opinion, it’s BEST to use in moderation and provides the child with another way of learning. Most children are entertained by watching videos, and it could help them recognize numbers with catchy lyrics, animations, and sounds.

We are BIG Disney fans. This video has been a hit with my toddler and even my preschooler! 

YouTube video

Other Youtube learning resources: Bob the Train, Super Simple Songs, and Little Baby Bum 

DO NOT rely on videos being the only source that the child gets for learning anything.

These videos are great to put on if you have to clean up after lunch, or you have to put the groceries away. It keeps engaged and learning, while you have some time to get done what you need to!

My recommendation is to have the child watch no more than 20 minutes once a day.

Strategy #8. Sing songs

Not a huge fan of screen time?

I get it. You don’t have to rely on videos to help teach toddlers; you can sing the songs yourself! Here are some examples of songs that you can sing to work on counting.

Put up all ten of your fingers or have your toddler put up their fingers. Start to sing “there were 10 in the bed, and the little one said roll over, rollover, and they all rolled over, and one fell out”(put one finger down). You could continue until you had no fingers left!

This is a perfect song to sing at bath time! When your toddler is taking a bath, bring out some rubber ducks if you have them. Sing the lyrics to this song and take away a duck throughout the song and bring them all back in the tub at the end!

The beautiful thing about this nursery rhyme is you can get creative with it. You don’t have to use the word monkeys; you can change it to whatever you want! We don’t have 5 toy monkeys; if you do, great use them! If you don’t, you can use dolls, trains, stuffed animals, etc. Your toddler will LOVE listening to you sing this song and watching their favorite toys fall off the bed.

I was planning on making a video example for this myself, but my daughter did this out of the blue, and it was too perfect!!

YouTube video

Strategy #9. Be Patient

Not every child learns at the same rate.

You may have one child who learned their numbers by 18 months, and the other child isn’t interested in learning quite yet, and they are 24 months. THAT IS OKAY!

The important thing is that you keep repeating the information to them. Don’t give up on them!

If you keep counting to them and explain what each number is when they see it, they will catch on. Be patient and stay confident in your child!

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Teaching your toddler about numbers is a fun but challenging adventure!

It’s important to start slow, play with number toys they can manipulate and repeat numbers daily.  Try to mix up the activities that you do with them to keep them engaged and excited to learn!

I would love to help in your journey teaching your toddler numbers (1-10). Whether you need some creative ideas or you need more helpful suggestions, please leave a comment below.

If you have any great ideas that you would like to share as well on what helped you teach numbers to a toddler, please share them with us!

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  1. My son 17 months old is very active and understands a lot. ..he says no.s 1234 then looks like he is unablevto say the word…I want him to learn more numbers and alphabets ..but I don’t know which strategy shall I use so that he becomes able to speak more…he wants to say five but his words stuck..

  2. This is very helpful information, I had 3 years old daughter, and find it hard to recognized numbers. I hope this information will really help..

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