Recognising numbers

The number of objects is the same however they are arranged.

Ordering Numbers

Make some cards with numbers on one side and the corresponding number of spots on the reverse.

Number cards

Lay the cards out with the spotted sides upwards and ask your child to put them in order.

Put these cards in order

As this is achieved you could leave one out and see if he or she can tell which one is missing. An extension to this is to try the same activity with the number sides showing.

Your child will probably become familiar with the arrangment of spots on the cards. It is important that he or she can recognise the number of objects however they are arranged. Using the cards theme, you can represent some numbers with different patterns of spots. Ask your child to match the cards with the same number of spots. Take the opportunity also, to arrange everyday items in different formations, for your child to count.

Different arrangements of four spots

Number Recognition

Playing games is a good way for your child to learn to recognise numbers. For one such game you can use some number cards. Number cards

Give your child a pile of counters or buttons. Hold up one of the cards and ask him or her to give you that number of counters. At first you can say the number as you show the card but later just hold it up for the child to look at. He or she can check by putting the counters over spots on the reverse of the card.


Developing the ability to estimate is also a useful skill. Asking a child to guess how many items are on a tray will help to develop this. Always count them out together afterwards, so that the child can see how close he or she was.

Recognising the Symbols

Which number is this? A fun way to help recognition of numbers is to select a few number cards. Take one from the pile without letting your child see it. Ask him or her to guess which one you have as you gradually expose the number from behind a screen (eg. a book) If your child guesses wrongly explain what the number is. Introduce a few numbers at first and build up slowly.

Writing Numbers

Some children will want to start writing numbers themselves as soon as they can recognise them. Adults should make sure that they encourage children to form their numbers correctly as incorrect letter formation can be very difficult to correct later. Encourage your child to look for a number to copy. Print out our number formation guide intended for parent or carer information.