A Right Brained Way to Teach Young Children to Count Child1st Publications
Nov 17, 2022

How to Teach Young Children to Count: A Right-Brained Approach

We believe that if a child is attracted to learning, learning will happen! If the task is boring and uninteresting, 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!

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 uninteresting, 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

Child1st Resources

We have counting resources that young children will love! Our resources utilize an approach that relies on images, stories, patterns, and hands-on activities, transforming learning math skills into a process that is fun and effective.

  • I Can Sing from 1-10 is newly updated with engaging illustrations, rhyming lyrics, and movements. 
  • I Can Count from 1-20 utilizes numbers embedded in images that tie symbols with meaning. It comes as a poster, download and print teaching cards, and as an interactive slideshow
  • Our 100s Chart Color-Coded will have your child counting to 100 in no time, all while having fun!
  • In Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction students will get a visual image for each number, see each number in context, learn to write the numbers correctly right from the start, and learn how to order numbers correctly.

5 Frame

Plain 5 Frame

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).


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 yourself. 

Colored 5 Frame


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. 

5. After color coding, practice counting together as you or your child point to each number you say. 



Using visuals to teach numbers to young children


6. Sometimes the teens cause problems. You may implement 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.




5 frame number chart using visuals for learning math7. When you come to the infamous numbers 20, 30, 40, 50, and so on, consider using the visual of a teacup and share with your child that the beginning of those numbers sound a whole lot like the numbers they are used to counting already! You could actually copy the tea cup and paste them in place by the numbers for which you need that reminder.
 Using visuals for teaching and learning math with young kids


From this point forward, when you practice counting, use your 5 Frame 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 5s and 10s!


Hands-On Activities

In another blog, Why Hands-On Activities are Vital for Young Learners, we discussed the benefits and importance of using hands-on activities for the real-world application of educational concepts. Here are a few ideas for how to teach young children to count through the use of hands-on activities:

  • Play Castle Quest using the I Can Count from 1 to 20 Teaching Cards. Castle Quest is designed to encourage cooperative learning using a hands-on, kinesthetic approach that will engage all learners.
  • Use the Number Song, found in I Can Sing from 1 to 10 and Right-Brained Addition & subtraction, and write each number in the air or on paper while singing the corresponding lyrics.
  • Finger paint numbers on glossy paper.
  • Trace numbers cut out of sandpaper.
  • Form numbers out of modeling clay.
  • Draw numbers in a sand tray.
  • Form numbers from pipe cleaners.
  • Turn each number into an object they associate with it (as is done in the stylized numbers chart).
  • Half-fill a large self-sealing plastic bag with tempera paint. If the bag is placed on a solid surface, such as a table or the floor, children can write each number on the bag with a finger. The number will appear momentarily as the finger displaces the paint.
  • Use wide masking tape to create very large numbers on the floor (or with sidewalk chalk for an outdoor activity). Let the children walk on the tape, starting at the top just as they would if they were writing each number.
  • Children can use their bodies to form numbers by lying down on top of the masking tape numbers. They may have to pair up to make a whole number, or they can use stuffed animals or toys to help!
  • Bingo: Give each child a copy of a Bingo sheet and ten markers (poker chips, cereal, mini marshmallows, small toys, etc.). As you call out numbers in a random order, have the children place their markers over each number you call.
  • Go Fish: Use a standard deck of playing cards with the face cards removed. Play as usual, per standard Go Fish instructions.
  • Hopscotch: Outline a hopscotch grid on the floor with masking tape (or with sidewalk chalk for an outdoor activity). Play by traditional hopscotch rules or try different variations.
  • Swift (or any name you choose) Says: Use the hopscotch grid and give your child instructions to follow, such as:
Hop once on three. Yawn on eight. 
Sit on nine. Put both feet on four.
Put your hand on five. Stomp on seven.
Jump twice on six. Clap on two.


Learning to count doesn't have to be a struggle, it can be fun! Preschool and Kindergarten students need a lot of practice in a very non-pressured environment with the child in full control of the pace. There are many more activities you can do with your child in addition to the ones listed above. The ideas are endless, and the children themselves will undoubtedly come up with some of the best ones. Whatever you do, focus on having fun with your child and they will surely master counting in their own perfect time!
If you have questions, we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us!



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