Having a firm grasp on what numbers look like, what they stand for, and how we use them in the real world is the foundation for building a strong number sense and a lifetime of mathematical learning. Kindergarteners need a lot of practice counting, writing, manipulating, and thinking about numbers. The good news is, counting activities for kindergarten are a lot of fun! Read on for 14 ways that your students can practice numbers in your classroom.
Counting Activities for Kindergarten
When it comes to counting and number activities, it is important to give students opportunities to use different manipulatives, materials, and styles of activities. From sorting, building, matching, and playing games, students will love learning more about numbers.
These activities use basic materials that you probably have on hand, such as number cards, dice, spinners, ten frames, craft supplies, and blocks. If you don't have a certain supply, you can always substitute to make it work for you and your classroom.
#1: Ten-Frame Fill
Ten-frames are the ultimate way to practice number sense. Students flip over number cards and fill in ten-frames with the proper number of counters. There are so many fun things you can use as counters, such as lego cubes, counting bears, bottle caps, colored marbles, cotton balls, shells, mini erasers, etc. By rotating materials often, you can keep this activity fresh and fun for your students, as it will feel new each time.
As your students progress, you can use multiple ten-frames to practice larger numbers.
If you want a done-for-you activity, check out this year-long ten frames unit. There are over 25 themes included, which is sure to keep ten frames fun and fresh all year long.
#2: Domino Match
Dominos are another great manipulative to use with kindergarten. This activity requires a deck of number cards (remove face cards) and a supply of dominos. First, students flip over a number card. Then they find a domino that has that same number of dots and match them up.
Another activity students can use dominos for is matching the ends of the dominos according to number. Challenge them to see what creation they can come up with by matching numbers and turning their dominos in different directions. This is also great for problem-solving!
#3: Play Dough Numbers
Using play dough is another great way to practice number sense along with fine motor skills. Before this activity, model how to roll out long “snakes” and form small balls with play dough. Allow your students to practice doing this. Once they're good and ready, have your students use the play dough “snakes” to form the numbers 1 through 10.
You can also have them make and match the correct number of balls with each number. If you're looking for some ready-made play dough mats, you can check out these Numbers to 10 Playdough Mats – just print and laminate!
#4: Bingo Dabbers
Using bingo dabbers with counting activities for kindergarten is a ton of fun! There are so many ways to incorporate them as well. One idea is to have students roll a dice and dab that many dots on a large sheet of paper. You can also use a spinner or number cards to select the number.
Another idea is to have students form the number using bingo dabbers. Simply write the number in a large print on a piece of paper. Have students use bingo dabbers to trace or dab over the print to form the number. You can also use pre-made no-prep number pages, designed specifically for bingo dabbers. For more ideas on how to use bingo dabbers in the classroom, click here!
#5: Number Puzzles
There are tons of great number puzzles you can find at the dollar store, but you can also make them in just a few simple steps! To make your own, use mini paper plates to create number puzzles. Cut each plate in half using a different pattern. For example, cut one plate using a zig zag pattern, another using a curved line pattern, etc.
For each puzzle, write a number on one half of the plate. On the other half, draw that number of dots. Mix up the pieces of 6-8 puzzles and have students solve the puzzles by matching them up.
#6: Build a Tower
Students love to build, and luckily building with manipulatives is great for counting, fine motor skills, problem solving, and spatial awareness! Students can roll dice, flip a number card, or spin a spinner to select a number. Then, they use plastic counting cubes to build a tower that matches the number. To take this activity one step further, have your students arrange the towers in number order.
#7: Magnetic Numbers
Magnetic numbers come in handy for several counting activities for kindergarten. One idea is to put them in a container or basket. Have students select them, one at a time, and put them in order on their desk or a magnetic board.
Another way they can use magnetic numbers it to practice counting on with number mats. Students will look at the first number on the mat and count on using magnetic numbers (or they can use the printable number cards included).
#8: Number Link-Up
This activity uses plastic links, which are fun for kids and also is great for building fine motor skills and coordination. Students select a number card and count out that number of plastic links. They will then link them together to show the number. If you have different colors, students can also practice patterns while doing this activity.
#9: Make the Recipe
This is such a fun counting activity for kindergarten! First, line muffin tins with paper liners. Mark each paper liner with a different number. Students will take a tin and a supply of magnetic numbers and match the magnets to the correct muffin cup. There are a lot of variations you can do with this activity, too!
Instead of writing the number, you could mark different numbers using dots on each paper liner and have students match the magnetic number to the dots. You could also have students count out the correct number of plastic bears, mini erasers, large beads or buttons, etc.
#10: Number Grab
Kids love this activity, and as a bonus, it's great for building strength in those little hand muscles. Prepare a stack of paper plates by writing a number in the center of each.
Give students a basket of small pom-poms. Students will choose a plate and use tongs or chunky tweezers to pick up the correct number of pom-poms and place them on each plate.
#11: Stringing Up Numbers
For this activity, you will need pipe cleaners and plastic beads. Before the activity, model how to curl the end of the pipe cleaner so the beads don't fall off.
Have students curl one end of their pipe cleaner. Students will then draw a number card and string that many plastic beads onto the pipe cleaner. They will curl the other end when they are done and move onto a new number and pipe cleaner.
#12: Deal the Cards
This would be a fun partner activity for students to play to work on counting. All you need is an ordinary deck of playing cards and a number mat for each player.
Students take turns flipping over a card and placing it on the number mat. If a number already has a card on top of it, the student puts the card face down in front of them. Once the mat is completely filled with numbers, students count up their cards to see who has the fewest cards left.
#13: Make a Deposit
For this activity, you will need used paper towel and toilet paper tubes. You can ask families to donate these or save them from your home.
Once you have a large supply, write a number at the top of each tube. Put a basket of small items on the table. You can use pom-poms, plastic counting cubes, plastic bears, colorful discs, etc.
Students will look at the number on the tube and count out that many items. They will drop them into the tube. They love hearing the different sounds the objects make!
When they think they have deposited the right amount of items, they can pull the tube up and count the items on the table, practicing the concept again.
#14: Digital Task Cards
Boom cards are digital task cards that are fun, interactive, and self-checking! This set of interactive, self-checking Number to 10 Mini Deck Boom cards work on a variety of number sense skills.
These digital activities can be used with many learning platforms or as a technology center. Students will listen to the audio directions and complete the task on the digital card by dragging and dropping the objects on the screen. Kids love these!
I hope these counting activities for kindergarten will inspire the young mathematicians in your classroom. Rotate these activities into your independent practice stations, math centers, or early finisher activities. You can adapt each activity with different numbers and materials to meet the needs of your students.
For more math activities to build number sense with numbers to 10, check out this blog post.
What is your favorite part of teaching math to your students?