How to Teach Counting: All You Need to Know

Counting is a fundamental skill alongside reading, and kids should start learning to count much earlier than in pre-K. While counting seems simple, it’s a more complicated process under close consideration, especially when you explain it to kids.

From this article, you will learn about stages of counting, its components, as well as strategies and fun ways to teach this topic. Keep reading to learn about counting stages.

Developmental Stages of Counting

We perceive counting as a uniform process, but only because we count automatically without even thinking about it. In reality, counting consists of several stages. Let’s describe them in detail and explain how children learn counting below:

Count All

There is a group of items – five apples on the table. If you ask your kid to tell you how many apples there are, they will count them one by one. One, two, three, four, five.

It is the first stage of counting, and it’s called count all – children have to count all items one by one to tell how many of them there are.

Count on

Let’s say you put three oranges on the table next to the five apples we mentioned previously. Afterward, you ask a student to tell you how many fruits there are on the table in total.

At this point, a student will start counting from five: five, six, seven, eight – there are eight fruits on the table.

This counting stage is called count on because kids can perceive previously counted objects as a single entity and start counting from the previous result.

Maintain Cardinality

Let’s say you add five more apples to the table again and ask a student to tell you how many there are in total.

At this point, a student keeps in mind two groups of objects, five apples and three oranges, and considers them one entity – eight fruits.

Then, they start counting new apples from eight – nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. There are thirteen fruits on the table. Such an approach means maintaining cardinality.

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What Are Different Components of Counting?

Before children begin learning counting stages, they have to learn the numbers. Consequently, parents should introduce kids to numbers and numerals in the first place. Once kids learn to pronounce numbers and write associated symbols (five is the same as 5), you can proceed to different counting components.

Rote Counting

Rote counting is counting in sequence up to a certain point – one, two, three, four, five. For instance, you ask a student to count to eight. They start – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. They count numbers without violating a sequence and up to a certain point, which is eight in our case. If students perform this task without mistakes, you can proceed to other counting components.

One-to-one Correspondence

Understanding one-to-one correspondence is key to counting. It’s the ability to associate an item with a number word. Let’s recall apples once again to illustrate how one-to-one correspondence works:

  1. A kid sees five apples on the table.
  2. They point at an apple and pronounce “one.”
  3. They point at another apple and pronounce “two.”
  4. They repeat the same pattern until they pair all the available apples with numbers according to the number sequence “five apples – five numbers”: one, two, three, four, five.

Once children pair items with numbers, they consider them “counted” and leave them behind, switching to other objects. They realize that one item equals one particular number, hence one-to-one correspondence.


Cardinality is the understanding of the last number in a sequence as the property of a group of items. Thus, in a set of five apples, the number five is the group’s property, which means this quantity includes five objects. Consequently, children can perceive it as a single entity labeled “five,” with five being a quantitative property of this entity.

When to Teach Counting to Your Kid

Children start learning how to count numbers as early as they begin to recognize letters. By the age of five, kids fully realize one-to-one correspondence, count by ten, understand cardinality, and count items in the groups. It means parents should start working on their kid’s counting skills as early as the age of three and four.

How to Teach Counting to 100: Top Strategies

Teaching counting to 100 requires continuous practice and teaching strategies:

#1 How to Teach Counting by 10s Using Coloring Books

You can incorporate math coloring and drawing books where children draw pictures by connecting the numbered dots. It’s one of the best tools to practice number order with fun.

#2 Teaching the Concepts of Fewer and More

You have to introduce children to the concepts of fewer, less, more, or many using illustrative examples:

  • Place four red candies on the table.
  • Place two blue candies on the table separately.
  • Count red sweets – one, two, three, four.
  • Count blue treats – one, two.
  • A kid will observe that there are visually more red candies than blue sweets on the table.
  • Explain to them that we use the word “more” when we speak about a greater amount when comparing something. Plus, you will illustrate why 4 is bigger than 2 – it’s visually clear.
  • Do the same with the concept of “fewer.” There are fewer blue candies than red ones.

#3 How to Teach Counting to Kindergartners Using Fruits

It’s so much easier to teach kindergartners to count using fruits. You can incorporate the following fun counting activities:

Pick Fruits

Fruits are not only healthier than sweets but also good for counting drills. Imagine your kid is going to play outdoors. Let them prepare snacks on their own; take fruits and sandwiches. Let them count apples/oranges or whatever fruit they take. This drill develops decision-making and counting skills at the same time.

Cook Together

Cooking provides endless counting opportunities since each recipe requires calculations. So grab your child and prepare fruit salads together.

How many bananas do you need? Ask your child to bring the required number. How many times do you need to cut a pomegranate to extract its seeds easily? These activities involve a lot of counting.

#4 Using Toys to Teach Counting

Children and toys are inseparable. 84% of American kids play with toys for up to six hours a day. Why not dedicate at least half an hour to counting? Using LEGO is the easiest way to teach counting to preschoolers. This method also helps with teaching counting on as long as you group bricks by color, shape, etc.

Encourage your child to count LEGO parts they use for creations – you can do it naturally by playing with your kid, not just commanding them to count LEGO bricks.

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How to Teach Counting and Increase Counting Skills with Fun

You can come up with a lot more ways to teach counting to kids with fun – games, toys, and songs. Let’s get into this in detail.

#5 Counting Games

Check out a few fun counting games below:

Draw Whatever You Imagine Game

Children love to draw, and it’s an excellent chance to develop imagination and strengthen counting skills at the same time. Play an awesome drawing game and note its rules:

  • Ask your kid to draw animals, let them be frogs – two, three, four frogs – you name the number.
  • Ask your kid to draw an imaginary animal with eight eyes, four wings, five legs, three tails, etc. It’s up to you and your kid to decide.

Outdoor Hunting Counting Game

You can count objects and items while walking and make it a fun game. Here is the concept:

Your kid notices particular items, cars, or animals within your walking route and counts them. Once they count by a particular number, they get a reward. Thus, ask your kid to find or “hunt” ten yellow cars along the streets.

Decide on the reward – it’s up to your imagination. But keep in mind that rewards are crucial – think of something to motivate your child. Otherwise, this game will bring nothing but disappointment.

Digital Counting Games

Over 90% of American children play video games. The good news is that you can make this screen time much more efficient with counting games.

Well-made counting games offer engaging counting drills embedded into the gameplay so that your child will have fun while enhancing their math skills.

#6 How to Teach a Toddler to Count Using Toys?

Kids learn to count through play, and this approach yields the best results. No wonder there are so many counting toys on the market. Check out some inexpensive toy ideas you can implement right now:

Wooden Counting Puzzles

You can buy simple wooden puzzles that consist of numbered ring stacking and colored rings that match the numbers on the labels. Such toys teach toddlers to count numbers and promote counting skills in the most effective way as children can touch, pick, and play around with the rings.


Abacus is an ancient calculation tool and a counting toy to help toddlers with learning to count. Your child will touch and slide the beads, counting them in the process. While Abacus doesn’t grip children’s attention on its own, you can come up with many fun activities to use this toy.

#7 Teaching Counting by 10s with Awesome Books

Help your kids with learning to count using these gripping books:

Goodnight, Numbers

This New York Times bestseller by Danica McKellar will lead your kid through a warm, soft bedtime story. As your kid will wish goodnight to items mentioned in the book, they will recall numbers and strengthen their counting skills.

Counting with a Ladybug

Counting with a Ladybug offers a captivating adventure to the world of garden animals – bees, dragonflies, ducks, butterflies, and so on. Its pages reveal many animals to count as well as bright gripping artwork and high-definition pictures to examine.

Count Your Chickens

Count Your Chickens contains numerous math challenges throughout its pages, encouraging kids to reread the book and count chickens once again. It’s an excellent choice to practice counting skills and develop attention to detail.

#8 Best Counting Songs and Rhymes

At this point, you can use seven methods to teach counting to your child, but you can go the extra mile with these catchy counting songs:

Here Is the Beehive


Here is the beehive (make a fist)

Where are the bees?

Hiding inside where nobody sees

Watch them come creeping out of the hive

One, two, three, four, five (release one finger at a time from the fist/hive)

…BUZZ-ZZZ (wiggle fingers)

Why Use This Song

This simple, easy-to-remember rhyme teaches rote counting – one, two, three, four, five bees. Plus, you can modify it to teach counting by 10s. Just add more bees!

One, Two, Three, Four, Five


One, two, three, four, five,

Once I caught a fish alive,

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,

Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?

Because it bit my finger so.

Which finger did it bite?

This little finger on my right.

Why Take This Song?

This catchy verse teaches counting by 10. You can also extend the counting sequence however you want. Just add the same verse starting with eleven, twelve, thirteen, and so on.

There Were Ten in The Bed


There were ten in the bed,

And the little one said, “Roll over, roll over”,

So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

There were nine in the bed…

Why Pick This Song?

This gripping song teaches counting backward, and it’s also highly customizable – you may say there are twenty, thirty, etc. in the bed.

Brighterly’s Tutors Help with Counting

All parents are homeschoolers to some extent, and teaching your kid counting can be mentally exhausting due to a lack of time and resources. After all, learning to count takes hundreds of hours that you might not always repel from home chores, job duties, and so on.

The good news is that you can enroll your child in comprehensive math courses where dedicated personal tutors will care about your kid’s math knowledge. Brighterly offers full-fledged math courses to children where they learn deeply about all math topics, counting included.

Bottom Line

While counting seems intuitive to adults, it’s a complex skill and all children go through several development stages of counting. You have to ensure that your kid goes through them smoothly because counting is the foundation of mathematics.

You can use toys, development games, and interactive activities to teach counting to your children. Plus, you can enhance and solidify your kid’s counting skills with professional math tutors.

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