Number flashcards and great number games

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Number flashcards and great number games

Age

Children aged 2 -6 (or older if you complete all the extension exercises) can play this flashcard game. At about age four your child will probably be able to count to ten. For younger children you will need to use just a few flashcard numbers (e.g. 1-3) whereas for older kids you need more numbers (e.g.1-10 or higher).

Number of players

These flash card games are great to play with a single child. However, children aged 3-5 are increasingly social beings. If you have two or more children you can still play, by getting them to take turns at matching the numbers.

Duration

Each of these flash card games takes just a few minutes to play, but there are several modifications you can use if you want to play for longer. You could play the games several times or play a series of different games to keep your child entertained for much longer. You can also make multilingual flashcards so that your child learns to count in different languages.

Materials needed

  • You will need a set of number and quantity flash cards and a set of large race track number flashcards. Download flashcards at the bottom of this page. Pick the flashcards which suit your child. If they would be too distracted by the objects on the counting flash cards, pick the version with dots only instead. If you want them to match with numeral with the word themselves, pick the separate numeral and word flashcards, rather than the flashcards which have both the word and number on the same card.
  • scissors_coloured_paper_crafts_800x600Scissors to cut out the cards.
  • Laminator if you have one, the cards will last longer.
  • Toy cars or other toys for numeral racing game.
  • Playdough for making playdough numbers.

Recognising numerals

  • You will need a set of numeral flashcards to play this game.
  • Take the flash cards and show them to your child one at a time.
  • Each time you hold up a flash card, ask your child what number is on the card
  • When your child gets the right answer, take another flash card and ask them the number.

Modifications on how to play

  • If your child is in the early stages of learning to recognise numbers use just a few flash cards (e.g. 1-3) and gradually increase the number as their skill increases.
  • If you are playing with several children, get them to take turns at answering when you hold up the flash cards. If one child has trouble getting the answer, ask the other children to help.
  • Ask your child to hold up the corresponding number of fingers each time they tell you what number is on the flashcard. It will help them to master number relationships.
  • Lay the flash cards out on the floor in random order face up and turn them over (so the number does not show). Ask the child to remember where a specific number was e.g. where was 3? Let the child turn over the card they think is the correct number. This activity works on their memory as well as their math, literacy and fine motor skills.
  • Stick the flash cards in different places around the house at the child’s eye level and as you walk past them during the day point to them and get the child to say the number aloud.

Extension activities

  • Show the child how to make double numbers e.g. 24 and with advancing ability how to create triple and larger figures and say aloud what those quantities are.
  • Teach your child how to phonetically say the numbers and show the ‘word’ flashcards. Get children to match words with numbers.
  • Teach your child numbers in languages other than English using the multilingual flash cards below.

Counting dots and recognising numerals

  • Girl-number-dotsThis activity is suitable for 2-4 year olds.
  • You will need a set of numeral and dots flashcards to play.
  • Show your child a flashcard and ask them to identify the quantity by counting the dots.
  • Next ask them what numeral is on the flashcards.
  • When your child has counted the quantity and identified the numeral correctly, show them another flashcard.

Modifications on how to play

  • For younger children who are just starting to learn to recognise numbers, begin with just a few flash cards (e.g. 1-3). Gradually add the next number flashcards as they become familiar with those numbers.
  • Collect small objects like petals, pebbles or leaves from around the garden. Instead of counting the dots on each flashcard, ask your child to cover each dot with one of their small garden treasures. Then ask them to count them.

Writing numbers car racing game

  • 159427729-boy-toy-carTake a set of large race track number flashcards and a toy car – they have a green dot indicating where your child should start writing the numeral, an arrow showing the direction in which they should write and a red dot indicating where your child should finish writing.
  • Explain to your child that this game is a car racing game. The aim is to race their toy car around the number. However, to win the race they have to race in the same direction they would write, starting at the green dot, following the direction of the arrow and finishing on the red dot.
  • If your child has ten toy cars (or other toys they’d like to race) put a sticker with a different numeral on each one. Then your child can get extra practice recognising and matching numerals, by choosing the correct car for each different numeral racing track.
  • Give your child the first A4 flashcard showing the numeral for zero. Ask them what number it is. Get your child to point to the starting point and pretend to write the numeral by tracing it with their finger.
  • Use a stopwatch or kitchen timer to measure how long it takes your child to trace the number.
  • When they have done that ask them to take their racing car and race it around the number as quickly and accurately as they can.
  • Repeat for other numbers on the flashcards.

Modifications on how to play

  • If your child isn’t interested in cars, modify this game so they can play with something they love. For example, you could race a toy horse instead of a car. Or you could use a princess and tell your child she is lost and has to walk around the numeral to get to the red dot which is her castle.
  • You could also use play dough snakes to write the numerals. Get your child to roll some long play dough snakes, then starting at the dot, twist the play dough into the shape of the number.
  • You can play this game with more than one child. Give each child their own numeral writing flashcards and get them to race against each other. The first child to arrive at the red dot wins, but they must also write the letter correctly following the direction of the arrows.

Sensory number writing

  • Take a set of large race track number flashcards and a jar of salt, sand or another fine grainy substance. You’ll need a flat surface to play this game. Be aware that it will probably spill, so make sure you play on an easy to clean surface or outside.
  • Take a numeral flashcard and ask your child to tell you what number it is.
  • When they have identified the number, tell them that you want them to practice writing it, by tracing over it with their fingers. So that they can feel what they’re doing and see their tracing at the end, tell them that you are going to cover the numeral flashcard in salt (or whatever substance you’re using).
  • Instruct your child to begin tracing at the start dot and move their fingers in the direction indicated by the arrows. As they trace their fingers will push the salt aside, leaving a track to show where they’ve traced.
  • If they start moving their fingers in the wrong direction, correct them and remind them to look at the arrows.
  • When they have finished, look at the track they have made in the salt and discuss its shape (e.g. the straight and curved lines) and whether or not it is the same shape as the numeral.
  • Repeat for other numbers. Or if you are focusing on teaching your child a specific number, repeat several times using the same number.

Number collages

  • You’ll need a set of large numeral flashcards with arrows showing the stroke sequence to play this game. Or for young children begin with just the numerals 1-3 and add gradually from there.
  • You’ll also need glue and materials for collaging. You could use:
    • Stickers or stick on wiggly eyes
    • Leaves and petals collected from the garden or neighborhood.
    • Glitter or confetti
    • Different coloured lentils and beans
    • Coloured rice
    • Cut up paper, for example cut from food wrappers, gift wrap or magazines. You child will enjoy cutting and it will help them develop their fine motor skills.
    • Crumpled paper balls. Crumpling paper into small, tight balls is a great way to help children develop strength and control in their finger muscles.
  • Prepare a pasting area.
  • Ask your child to select a numeral they would like to start with (e.g. 3 if they are three years old). Or you could ask them to find the numeral in the correct order.
  • Ask your child what numeral they have chosen and to hold up the corresponding number of fingers.
  • Next ask your child to decorate the numeral using the collage materials.
  • For older children, you might ask them to design a collage that corresponds to the number, for example they might use three different colours to decorate the numeral three.
  • For older children who are learning to write numerals, instruct them to begin at the dot and follow the arrows in the correct stroke sequence as they stick the collage materials.
  • When they have finished collaging, place the numeral aside to dry and continue with another numeral. You may make this an ongoing project and make one numeral collage each day, or make them all at once if you have plenty of time.
  • When you finish collaging for the day, encourage your child to help with the clean-up, for example by washing the paint brush they used for gluing or packing away the collage materials.

Matching numbers and quantities

Line up the number flashcards in order (0-10). Give you child the quantity (dot or common objects as you prefer) flashcards and ask them to place the corresponding quantity next to each number.

Modifications on how to play

  • When your child has learnt to recognise the quantities and their corresponding numbers, make this game a bit more challenging by placing the number cards in reverse order (10-0).
  • To make the game even harder place the number cards in random order and get your child to match their quantities.
  • Instead of using the quantity flashcards, use real objects. Stones, leaves, little figurines (not too distracting ones though) or any other small objects can be used. Ask your child to find the correct number of objects and place them next to each flashcard. This is a great modification if you would like to play outside- your child can explore objects in the garden while they are learning to count.

Extension activities

  • As your child places the quantity card (or a quantity of objects) next to the number card, get them to count aloud. If you are using quantity cards, teach them to point at each object on the card as they count. If you are using real objects, get your child to count aloud as they place each object on the ground.
  • Also talk to your child about big and small quantities as you play.
  • Talk to your child about the colours and shapes of the objects you are using to do the ‘quantities’.
  • Teach your child how to phonetically say the numbers and show the ‘word’ flashcards. Get children to match words with numbers.
  • Teach your child numbers in languages other than English using the multilingual flash cards below.
  • For older children you can also teach them early mathematical concepts such as:
    • Recognising the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
    • Teaching them the concept of zero
    • Numbers that come after 10, i.e. 11-100 and how the structure for each set of numbers is formed
    • Teaching them language used to indicate a quantity such as a single, double, triple and so forth. Also a dozen, half-dozen, several.
    • How to do simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division sums.

Number snap card game

  • You’ll need four copies of each of the small number flashcards to play this game, and two or more players.
  • Put all the cards in a pile and shuffle them to ensure the numbers are sorted randomly.
  • Deal an even number of cards for each player, keeping the cards face down as you distribute them.
  • Each player then takes their pile of cards and the first player begins by turning their top card over and placing it facing up in the centre.
  • The next player turns the top card in their pile face up and places it in the centre, on top of the previous card.
  • As the cards are turned, players must look at the numbers on the cards.
  • If two consecutive cards with the same number are placed on the pile (e.g. two players in a row turn over a number five card), the first player to place their hand over the top of the pile and say ‘snap’ wins the cards in the centre. The player who won the snap takes the cards in the centre, turns them over so they are facing down and places them on the bottom of their pile.
  • They start the game again by placing the top card of their pile in the centre, facing up.
  • If a player snaps when the two top cards don’t match they have to add an extra card to the centre pile.
  • If the last two consecutive cards do not show the same number, players continue taking it in turns to place a card on the pile until two matching cards are turned over.
  • The game continues until a single player is holding the entire deck of number flashcards.

Extension activities

  • Ask your child to not only say snap, but to say ‘snap’ followed by the number that appears on the matching cards. This helps them to not only recognise numerals that look the same but to also relate those numerals to the corresponding number words.

Sorting numbers and quantities

  • Take the flashcards with either the numerals, numbers or the quantities and put them on the ground in a random order.
  • Ask your child to put the numbers or quantities in order starting with the smallest number and finishing with the largest number (0-10).
  • To make the game easier for smaller children to play, start by using just a few numbers and quantities (e.g. 1-3) and add extra numbers once they learn to recognise those.

Extension activities

  • Get your child to sort the cards in reverse order.
  • Challenge your child to put in ascending (and then in reverse order) the matching odd numbers with the quantities and then the matching even numbers with the quantities.
  • Teach your child how to phonetically say the numbers and show the ‘word’ flashcards. Get children to match words with numbers.
  • Teach your child numbers in languages other than English using the multilingual flash cards below.

Tips

  • You may want to cut out the flash cards before placing them in the laminating pockets, you will fit more in that way.
  • You can also paste the number, with the associated dots and word on coloured card to make a poster. Stick it at eye level in various places around the house (or garden if laminated) so they can practise. (On the wall of the toilet is a good place as there is nothing else to look at in there!)
  • You could also paste the laminated cards onto magnet cards (politicians and businesses often put these in the letterbox) then children can order and match numbers on the fridge, washing machine, or magnetic blackboard.
  • Congratulate your child when they are correct and encourage them to persist if they make a mistake.
  • Reinforce learning by pointing out numbers in everyday life, such as on letterboxes or car registrations when you go for a walk, on price tags in the shops or on the buttons on your phone.
  • If your child is struggling with any of the number games, give them a hand. For example, if you are playing the sorting game, get them to count aloud as they point to objects on the flashcard and then help them to identify the matching numeral.
  • When you finish playing, encourage your child to help with the clean-up, for example by washing the paint brush after collaging or putting their flashcards back in a box labelled flashcards.

Benefits of these games

This is a great game for developing early mathematical skills like counting but will also develop communication, language and fine motor skills.

Maths skills

Recognising quantities and the symbols which represent them (numerals) are the most important mathematical skills for pre-schoolers to develop. It is also referred to as knowledge of number relationships. Your child will learn both from doing the number flashcard activities, especially those ones which involve counting dots. In the beginning they’ll develop understanding of:

  • One-to-one correspondence which is the knowledge that each object has a quantity of one, even if they are counting that object with a higher number. For example they will count three for the third object, but understand it is one, just like the first object that they counted one.
  • Cardinality which is the understanding that the number they say when counting the last object in the group represents the quantity. Although by three years most children can count a small group of dots correctly, they may not be able to answer if you ask, “how many?” when they finish counting (instead they may count the dots again to work out the answer.

These fundamental mathematical skills provide children a foundation for understanding more advanced concepts including:

  • Place order an understanding that numbers are counted in order of the numbers they represent.
  • Subsitising which is the ability to recognise the quantity of a small group of objects, for example three dots on a flashcard, without counting them.
  • Whole part relationships, the understanding that each whole number can be represented as two or more parts, and that there are multiple possible ways to represent the parts (e.g. 1+4, 2+3, 3+2 and 4+1 for number 5).
  • More and less relationships or the understanding that some number quantities are more and others less and, related to whole part relationships that ‘more’ numbers contain ‘less’ numbers as their part (but not vice versa).

These activities will also help your child develop their ability to write numerals using the correct stroke sequence. Knowing how to write numbers is an important foundation for mathematical achievement, as if children cannot recognise and write numerals they will be unable to do mathematical calculations. Counting aloud is also an important mathematical skill for preschool children. Sorting is a basic mathematical concept which your child will learn from this game. Children can also develop their understanding of mathematical concepts such as bigger and smaller when they talk about the quantities associated with numbers and will better understand concepts like time and measurement when they play with time keeping instruments like the stopwatch in the car racing game. Matching and sorting are also important mathematical concepts your child will develop through these activities, for example when sorting numerals or quantities in order of smallest to largest, or matching numerals while playing snap.

Fine motor skills

Manipulating the flash cards or picking up small objects will help your child develop fine motor skills which enable them to use their fingers with dexterity. Manipulating objects like toys cars which need to be pushed around the numeral racing track is also a great way to develop children’s finger muscles. Tracing numerals using fingers (with or without sensory materials like sand) is a great way to help children learn how to write numbers. Get your child to trace with their index and middle finger extended (instead of just using their index finger). As it’s both these fingers they’ll be relying on when they come to writing numbers with a pencil or pen.

Collaging numerals is also a fantastic fine motor activity, particularly if you use cut out and crumpled up balls of paper. By about three years of age most children can open and close scissors with one hand, but still have difficulty cutting in straight lines.Cutting up paper is great for kids at this age because they get to practice using the scissors and it doesn’t really matter what shape the paper ends up. Crumpling paper into balls, first using both hands, then one and later only the finger tips is also an excellent way to develop the strength and control of small finger muscles. They’ll also give their fingers a work out while spreading glue, sticking stickers and picking up the small objects they use to collage.

Communication and social skills

168263699-mother-son-homeworkWhether they’re playing just with you or other children your children will learn valuable social skills. Children learn about verbal communication by communicating as they play this game, as well as non-verbal forms of communication like symbols (e.g. numeral) and body language. You can develop their self-efficacy by praising them when they get the right answer which makes children feel successful and promotes positive feelings. When they make a mistake, develop their problem solving skills by helping them to work it out.

Language development/literacy

The simple act of talking helps your child learn new words and develop the ability to combine words in sentences. Your child will also be increasing their mathematical vocabulary by learning words like big and small, numbers and quantities, and developing their literacy skills by learning to read the words for each number. Use the multilingual flashcards to teach your child another language. Learning a second language early in life not only provides the basis for perfecting that language later in life, it also improves children’s cognitive skills such as problem solving. When they read the word flashcards for each number children will be developing their literacy skills, that is, their ability to read and write. Playing the numeral racing game which teaches children how to write a numeral starting in the correct place and following the correct sequence to write the strokes that form the numeral is also a great way to develop literacy skills- the same principles apply to writing the letters of words- they must all start in a particular place and be written in a particular direction.

Bonding, friendship and teamwork

When playing this game with a group, the children will learn about friendship and teamwork by helping other children get the right answer.

Flashcard download

Pick and choose which flashcards you want – if you want the child to match the numeral with the word themselves, pick the separate numeral and separate word flashcard options.

Download numeral with corresponding dots flashcards:

Download the numeral and names flashcards in:

Download the dots only:

Download the numeral flashcards only:

Download the numeral names only in:

References

  1. Centre for Innovation in Education. Numeral Writing. 2011. (Cited 28 May 2014). Available from: (URL Link)
  2. Dobbs J. Doctoroff GL, Fisher PH. The ‘Math is everywhere’ preschool curriculum. Teaching Children Mathemetics. 2003. Full Text
  3. Virginia Early Childhood Development Alignment Program. Milestones of child development- A guide to young children’s learning and development from birth to kindergarten. 2009. (cited 26 July 2013). Available from: (URL Link)
  4. Clement DH. Mathematics in the preschool. 2001. National Council of teachers in mathematics. Cited 19 January 2013. URL Link
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. The complete and authoritative guide- Caring for you baby and young child- birth to age 5. 5th ed. Bantum Books. 2009. Book
  6. American Council of the teaching of Foreign Languages. Cognitive benefits of learning language. Duke Gifted Letter. 2007; 8(1). Available from: (URL Link)
  7. Calder T. Help your preschool child develop fine motor skills. 2006. (cited 12 May 2014). Available from: (URL Link)
  8. Andrews M. General Categories of Fine Motor Development. Michigan State University Extension. UNDATED. (cited 28 March 2014). Available from: (URL Link)
  9. Jung M, Hartmen P, Smith T. The Effectiveness of Teaching Number Relationships in Preschool. Int J Instruction. 2013; 6(1). Available from: (URL Link)
Date Created: May 14, 2013 Date Modified: October 3, 2016 Date Reviewed: May 27, 2014

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