Basic numeracy – Easy counting activity

Over the past few months we have been looking into the local schools, ready for when we fill out the application forms. It’s a scary thought that my little care Bear will be starting school next September. He is completely ready for it, but as a parent who is used to him being around, it will be really difficult waving him off at the school gates. Although Bear is now at preschool, I like doing some educational activities at home to help with basic literacy and numeracy as well. Last week I set up a fun counting activity that helps with number recognition. It went down so well with Bear, I just had to share it!

Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity


For this counting activity you will need:

  • 10 paper or plastic cups
  • 55 Pebbles or stones
  • A container
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Sticky tape


How to create this counting activity:


Step 1: Cut out ten squares from the paper

Step 2: Number the squares from 1 – 10

Step 3: Stick the numbered squares onto the cups

Step 4: Place the cups in a line in ascending order

Step 5: Places the stones in a container next to the cups


Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity

Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity



Basic numeracy – Easy counting activity


The idea is to put one pebble or stone in the cup labelled (1), two pebbles or stones in the cup labelled (2), three pebbles in the cup labelled (3) and so on.


Bear does already have some recognition of numbers, mainly thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine toys. To help him with an understanding we went through the numbers on the side of the cup together and then counting the stones as we placed them in each cup.

Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity

Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity


Once we had done that a few times, I started asking Bear to point put the right amount of stones in certain cups. If he wasn’t sure, we would count the cups again together until we got to the number I had originally said.


It’s important to not get annoyed or frustrated when teaching children new concepts, so when Bear got a number wrong I just said things like “not quite, that one is a number 6 which is really close, but we are looking for number 9”. Bear would then usually pick another cup or I would show him the one we were looking for.


I really don’t want to push learning onto Bear, but I do want to encourage him with his learning. So I set this activity up and let him play with it if he wanted to. He would usually only engage with this counting activity for about ten minutes at a time, but over a few days it really helped him recognise his numbers and associate them the amount of something.


I now ask Bear to help me with grams on the scales when we do baking, how many minutes are left on the oven or to help me find the right numbers on our washing machine. He loves being more involved and helping out more in the day to day things in the house.


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Basic numeracy - Easy counting activity


Have you started learning basic numeracy in preparation for school? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow me on Pinterest.

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17 thoughts on “Basic numeracy – Easy counting activity

  1. What a fab activity – and so simple too! Harry is 3 and starting school next year so I think this would be really useful to practice with him and the girls would just love showing off what they know!

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