How to Teach Counting: All You Need to Know

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    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.

    As we go on, you will learn how to teach a child to count using the stages, components of counting, and all the fun ways of teaching kids to count. First on the list are the counting stages and how they apply to your kids. 

    Developmental stages of counting 

    We often think that counting is a uniform process, but that is because our brains have already been engineered to count without giving it so much thought. However, when you break it down in reality, there are many stages to counting. Let us look at these stages in detail and see how kids learn how to count:

    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 One 

    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 the total number of fruits there are on the table.

    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. You can proceed to other counting components if students perform this task without mistakes.

    One-to-one correspondence 

    Understanding one-to-one correspondence is key to counting. Kids can associate a number word with an item when using one-to-one correspondence. 

    For example, a kid sees ten oranges on the table and starts counting and pronouncing the words attached to the number. 

    The kid points to or touches the oranges and starts counting one orange, two oranges, three oranges, four, five, and so on as they transfer the oranges from one place to another. They repeat this until they can pair the objects with the numbers. So a kid can say two oranges is for the number 2, three oranges is for the number 3, and so on. 

    The ability for a learner to associate numbers with objects in their number is the one-to-one correspondence style of counting. You can increase the number as the kids progress in their learning in class. The best way to teach one-to-one correspondence is by using visual aids. A great way to get all the kids learning to count involved at the same time is by putting them in the classroom in a single line and then asking them to pick a number. As they move, they call out their numbers and count from the first person to them to ensure they learn the lesson in one-to-one correspondence. 


    Cardinality is understanding 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

    There is no specific age to teach your kid how to count; you have to start as early as possible because kids start learning how to count as soon as they recognize letters, images, and other visual items. 

    After all, counting is the foundation of math for kids. By age five, kids have already fully understood the concept of one-to-one correspondence. As they grow, they learn to count by ten, understand cardinality, and count items in groups. So, as a parent, you must continue teaching children to count from a very young age. 

    As soon as their cognitive abilities begin to form, you should introduce counting to their brains so that they grasp it much earlier than usual. The earlier your kids understand the idea of counting as a math concept, the earlier their brains can open up to other complex problems that they may have to deal with in the world of math. You can learn how to teach counting to 4 year old, and how to teach counting to 5 year old by using counting worksheets for different grades from online math learning platforms for kids.

    How to Teach Counting to 100: Top Strategies

    Teaching counting to 100 requires continuous practice and teaching strategies:

    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.

    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.

    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 suitable 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.

    Using Toys to Teach Counting

    Children and toys are inseparable. 84% of American kids play with toys for up to six hours daily. 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 teach counting as long as you group bricks by color, shape, etc.

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

    How to Teach Counting and Increase Counting Skills with Fun

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

    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, making it a fun game. Here is the concept:

    Your kid notices and counts particular items, cars, or animals within your walking route. 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 remember 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 your child will have fun while enhancing their math skills.

    How to Teach a Toddler to Count Using Toys

    Kids learn to count through play, which 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 learn to count. Your child will touch and slide the beads, counting them. While Abacus doesn’t grip children’s attention on its own, you can find many fun activities to use this toy.

    Teaching Counting by 10s with Awesome Books

    Help your kids learn 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, 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 again. It’s an excellent choice to practice counting skills and develop attention to detail.

    Teaching With The 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’s 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 is 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 you might not always repel from home chores, job duties, etc.

    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

    Counting is a big part of our day-to-day life activities. We count steps, we count items, and we count kilometers when calculating a distance. People unable to count may find themselves stuck in situations where they may not communicate in numbers because of their limitations. With adults, counting is just an action led by intuition, but this is different with kids; this is more complex because kids first have to understand what is in front of them, how to pronounce it, and why it is that way. 

    Your best bet at ensuring your kids can navigate life is to teach them counting. This article has shown you how to make child learn counting. In addition, 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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