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Activities Simple Play With Numbers.
popsicle stick number play

Simple Play With Numbers.

Adding fun toddlers’ activities is a great way to help young children stay engaged. With numeracy, I find simple to play with numbers is a popular way for my son to have fun while learning foundational math concepts. Keeping things simple also allows me to rotate activities frequently or it is easy for my son to repeat these activities in his independent play.


Popsicle sticks and clothespin numbers.

This is one of my favorite toddler activities to practice number sequences. With little effort, it can be adapted to become an easier or more difficult activity. Simply change the size of the number and how many numbers are missing on a single popsicle stick.


Popsicle sticks, markers, and clothespins.


  1. Write the numbers 1 to 7 on a popsicle stick, leaving one number out. Repeat this on other popsicle sticks, leaving a different number out.
  2. Write on clothespins the numbers 1-7.
  3. Your child finds the clothespin with the correct missing number – so it´s also developing their fine motor skills.



                            Simple play with numbers
Clothespin Dominoes!


Clothespins, markers, and stickers.


  1. On one end of the clothespin, stick a coloured sticker.
  2. On the other end, write a number.
  3. Continue alternating between a colour sticker and a different number to make your dominoes.

The game:

Just like dominoes, the idea is to match the colour and match the numbers. This is a great toddler activity to do before the one I suggest next.



simple play with numbers, dominoes

Playdough Dominoes.


Playdough, rolling pin, and a playdough cutter/cookie cutter.

1. Roll out some playdough and cut it into rectangles.

2. Place a line roughly in the center of each tile and introduce the concept of a ‘half’.

3. Roll some tiny playdough balls in a different colour.

4. Arrange the first tile with the smallest number of dots (1 & 2).

5. Add the tiny playdough balls to one tile at a time.

6. Your child counts the number on each tile (1:1 correspondence).

The game:

  1. Make a dot number tile and your child places the same number of dots on the next tile. Then they create the next tile.
  2. The adult must match the same number of dots to the child´s tile.
  3. Repeat until all tiles are used.



ten frame for math learning

DIY Ten Frame.

A ten frame is a simple graphic tool that allows children to visualize numbers. An important foundational math concept is understanding that numbers are composed of tens and ones. A strong sense of ‘ten’ is a prerequisite in numeracy for place value understanding (larger numbers) and mental calculations.


Egg carton, cardboard, marker, and a manipulative (I used pumpkin seeds).


  1. Glue the base of a ten-dimple egg carton to a piece of cardboard.
  2. Write the numbers one to ten on each dimple.
  3. Next to each numeral, draw the corresponding number of dots so your child can also practice subitizing.
  4. Provide a manipulative of some kind to make various number combinations to ten.

Ways to play:

  1. Make a number.

Get them to make a number! Example 8. There are many different ways to make 8, experiment with a variety of combinations.

  1. Match a numeral to a quantity.

Get them to put an amount in the frame, and then place the correct number next to the frame.

  1. Make number bonds.

If you fill a ten frame, you make a number bond to ten. If you use two types of objects, then you have pairs of numbers to make a bond. For example, you might have 4 pumpkin seeds and 6 conkers. As an adult, you can provide the math-specific vocabulary like – ‘How many do you have altogether? ´Or, ´you’ve got 4 pumpkin seeds and if you add 6 conkers it makes 10’.



sidewalk chalk number play

Simple Play with Numbers.

Sidewalk chalk is an easy way to entertain toddlers. It also provides opportunities for reinforcing basic math skills for young children. It´s easy to repeat these kinds of activities for toddlers in their independent play.


Sidewalk chalk, bottle lids, marker, manipulatives (stick/stones), and open space like a patio.


  1. Draw the numbers 1-10 on the sidewalk. It can be done in the form of a 10 frame.
  2. Write the numbers 1-10 on lids.

Ways to play:

  1. Using chalk, draw the number of strokes to the corresponding number.
  2. Match the numeral on the lid to the chalk numeral.
  3. Place various objects (sticks, stones, etc)to make that chalk number.


In conclusion, there are many ways to expose your child to numbers through play. Try a variety of activities to see which your child likes best.

Make teaching and learning simple with our latest activities, which upskills parents to help their children succeed in their daily lives. Read my article simple play with letters for further ideas.

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Lisa Forsythe

Teacher, mum and author of Simple Activities for Toddlers: A Practical Play-At-Home Handbook for Parents.