A Right-Brained Way to Teach Young Children to Count

We hear from parents on a regular basis who have children that struggle to recognize numbers and count. One way that numbers are traditionally taught is to display a chart of 100 numbers in rows of ten and count that chart daily. Repetition over many passes through that chart will eventually work… most of the time. However, there is a much more effective way to get this done, especially when teaching a beginner.

Basic philosophy 

  • We believe that if a child is attracted to learning, learning will happen! If the task is boring and drab, results will be mixed. So what attracts the brain to learn? Patterns, color, hooks for learning, story, and all those right-brained teaching elements which are so underutilized in traditional classrooms!
  • Memorization and drill is the least effective way for children to take in and remember knowledge.
  • Telling children what you want them to know is the least effective way to impart knowledge. Instead, attract them to the learning process through fun, humor, color, play, puzzles to solve, and novelty.
  • If we utilize the giftedness of the child, results will be remarkable; especially if we use their built-in mental camera, then snap! They have it!

The tools

We have books to help: Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction, Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction Vol. 2, Right-Brained Multiplication & Division, and Right-Brained Fractions. These books arrange all the left-brained factoids in right-brained elements for ease of delivery to the brains of these lovely right-brained learners. As part of the new editions of these books, we have created playing cards that reinforce and provide practice while providing a fun experience. 

Here is a good strategy for teaching a young child to count that you can do today:


1. Download 5 Frame, print it, cut out the charts, and tape end to end to make a chart long enough to accommodate 100 numbers (or as many numbers as you want).
5 frame number chart

2. Write the numbers in the boxes. You can take turns with your child to keep this from being a tedious activity that makes their hand tired; alternatively, you may write all the numbers in yourself.  

3. Supply the child with crayons or markers to use for color-coding.

4. Do pattern discovery together. Point out that in each column, a pattern emerges when we look in the 1’s place and also in the 10’s place. The child might want to choose five light-colored crayons to use for color-coding. In the first column, she could draw a line straight down from the 1 in the top left box that connects the 1, 6, 1, 6, 1, 6 that appears in the 1’s place. In column 2, the pattern in the 1’s place becomes 2, 7, 2, 7, 2, 7, etc.  

Using visuals to teach numbers to young children5. After color-coding, practice counting together as 
you or your child point to each number you say. 

6. Sometimes the teens cause problems. You may snatch an idea from our stylized numbers and make the 1 in each of the numbers from 13-19 into a “teen” – a stick figure teenager. So when you count those numbers, you would point to the number in the 1’s place first and then finish by pointing to the teenager.

7. When you come to the infamous numbers, 20, 30, 40, 50, and so on, consider using the visual of a tea cup and share with your child that the beginning of those numbers sound a whole lot like the numbers they are used to counting already!


5 frame number chart using visuals for learning math                  Using visuals for teaching and learning math with young kids


Visual of the tea cup

You could actually copy the tea cup and paste them in place by the numbers for which you need that reminder. See the illustration above.

From this point forward, when you practice counting, use your 5-Chart to be the visual reminder of the numbers. Before long, your child will be able to count independently of the chart and the visuals. Note that this same chart can help him learn to count by 5’s and 10’s!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published