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How Many Ways Can We Learn and Play…With Everyday Counting?

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Today I am talking about the little ways that we work counting into our life every day. It is never too early to start modeling counting and other ways to use numbers!

Most of the “academic” type stuff that Ladybug has learned so far has been kind of by accident or because she asked about it. I don't do repetition, drills or flashcards but we do have educational toys and we will do fun things that happen to incorporate learning. When I list them out like this, it starts to feel like we are a little bit OCD. But these are all spread out throughout the day, and not all of them happen every day. Also if she doesn't enjoy it, I don't persist.

When she was a baby, we would do all the counting. Then when she started repeating numbers we would count and then leave the last one off so she would start to fill in the blank. Eventually she was doing it all on her own.

Here are some fun ways that we count:

Seems a bit obvious but if we need to do a fast toy cleanup I ask her how many toys she can put in the toy box by the end of a song, or before Little Big Man wakes up, before lunch time, etc.


Most of the time we fold laundry in the basement when toddler hands are not around to undo the folding. However we recently had water damage to our basement so laundry folding is being done out in the open in prime toddler territory. Ladybug will help me count and match up socks, this is her “job” when I am folding laundry. If it's a towels load, well, we still hunt for the socks…we just don't find any! Zero is a number too!

Sometimes Ladybug would ask to be carried when I was really pregnant and I just couldn't do it, plus I knew she could walk by herself. I used counting as a distraction from the stair battle and the activity stuck with us. We have 4 stairs from the deck to our back door, 15 stairs to get from the main floor to the upstairs. 8 at the park district building, etc, etc. It may have helped that I used a slightly excited upswing in my voice, which Ladybug now likes to imitate when we count.

We do this almost every day, whether it is her favorite thing on the plate or the thing that she is turning up her nose at. “Let's count it out,” I will say. She counts how many of the item are on her plate. The she especially likes it when I say, “What will happen if you eat 1?!” She giggles, eats one and then counts the remaining bites. Repeat until the answer is an excited, “NONE!”


This is actually the first thing we ever counted with Ladybug. She was always in awe of my husband's hands so when we needed to occupy her at a restaurant or the dinner table he would splay his hand on the table and point to each finger as he slowly counted. I feel like we did this because she enjoyed it and it entertained her, although I guess it DOES sound like repetition. I felt redeemed recently when she learned the skill of putting one finger up at a time to count them and we will find her quietly doing this in her bed or her carseat for fun. I think she is kind of impressed with her new skill.
Floor Tiles and Sidewalk Squares

Ladybug watched an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a while back where they had to choose the right path to get somewhere and the path was made of squares. She loves to recreate books and shows so we have been using that idea just for fun or when I need her to go somewhere, time on task. I ask which path we need to take to get to the (back door, bathroom, restaurant, etc) and then we count the squares on our way. This usually means I will play Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a little bit following the path walk but it is a fun way to get us from here to there.

Bath Toys

“How many turtles do you want to play with in the bath today?” I will ask. By now she knows how many turtles we have available. She can choose how many she wants. We also have foam letters and numbers, Splashimals cards, cups and some other household items that she can play with. We count them out as we add them to the tub and when we clean them up.


Since she was 6 months old, every time Ladybug takes a nap or goes to sleep, we read her two books. She gets to pick them- which book will we read first and second? This may seem like a minor thing, but sequencing is an important early math skill. Understanding which book we will read first and which book we will read second, or last, is a great by-product of this little daily task.

Reading Those Books

Of course there are tons of great counting books but you don't need a book geared towards counting. Sometimes we totally disregard the words of a book and just describe the picture, including counting things we see. Even in very basic books with one picture on each page, you can point and say things like, “The puppy has one, two eyes…one two ears…and one tail!”

Three Special Steps

Somewhere along the way we caught a few of those commercial break type mini-shows featuring Special Agent Oso and his Three Special Steps for doing various healthy things. Again, seeing that Ladybug was reenacting this, we started to incorporate it into our life- usually to make un-fun things more fun. It's been a great way to avoid crying is stressful situations, like leaving a fun place or rare occasions when she resists going up to bed. We can talk about the three special steps ahead of time, then it is not a surprise that we need to do them. They don't have to be major steps…they can be simple things. What are the three special steps to going to bed? Step 1. Walk up the stairs. Step 2. Put on pajamas. Step 3. Stories with Daddy. If she still says she doesn't want to do whatever it is, I usually say, that's okay we are only doing step one right now!

Counting Songs

We love our counting songs! They can be sung as is, for fun, but they can be changed to be applied to activities too. 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed sometimes gets changed to 5 Little Broccolis sitting on my plate. The rest of the song is sung the same, but when the broccoli falls off it goes into the mouth! Alice the camel and Six Little Ducks are also fun ones.

What are some ways that you work counting into your day? I'd love to hear them! If you liked our everyday counting roundup, show us some love- share it on facebook or pin the title picture on pinterest! Feel free to drop by and follow us on facebook or pinterest for more ideas!

I'm excited to be linking up with some great groups this week:

Sugar Aunts
The Sunday Showcase


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    1. Thanks! It was actually kind of surprising to think of how many ways we count every day! I’m sure you can relate, I know you are a master at coming up with many ways to explore various themes! 🙂

  1. Just caught up on your blog – you have soo many good ideas! I especially liked the ‘that’s ok, we are on step one now’ in regards to completing tasks. 🙂 i just put together a water bead sensory bin for the boys, too. No light box yet, though i’ll try to work on that.

    1. Thanks for the kind comment Ann! It is a fun age, isn’t it? The things that she says every day just crack me up. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Excellent list! So much learning happens through our daily activities. Another way we count is by counting as we brush the girls’ hair. Neither of them really likes sitting to have their hair brushed, so counting along in silly voices helps the task go by more easily. Thanks for sharing at Discover & Explore.

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