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Walk the number line: Exercises that teach preschoolers math and counting skills

We recently wrote about the importance of understanding and tracking preschool math milestones. Now we want to discuss activities that help children build these skills. A number line activity is a great way for preschoolers to practice their counting and math abilities, while also gaining familiarity with recognizing difficult numbers. 

Materials You'll Need:

  • Painter's tape
  • Paper plates
  • Marker or pen
  • Deck of cards or index cards with written numbers

How to Set Up the Activity:

  • First, you should tape three number lines on the floor (use a classroom area with a surface that won't be damaged by tape). Each line should have a different number of lines of tape across it, symbolizing the numbers in increasing order. To practice counting to the number 4, you should place four pieces of tape perpendicular to the number 4 line. Likewise, the number 5 line should have five pieces, and the number 6 should have six pieces.
  • Next, tape three plates at the end of each number line, and write the corresponding number (4, 5 or 6) on the plate. 
  • Separate the deck of cards and select the numbers of the number line you're practicing (4, 5 and 6 in this case). For larger numbers, index cards or sticky notes work better than cards, as you can write larger numerals.

How to Play:

  • Ask students to draw a card from the chosen cards (4, 5 or 6). Then, have your students match the number on the card they selected to its corresponding number on the line.
  • Once he or she has identified the correct number line, the student should walk down the number line with the card in hand. He or she should count each perpendicular line, while walking across it before finally placing the card on the plate at the end.

ProSolutions Training offers many child care training and curriculum planning courses for early childhood educators. Refer to our comprehensive course menu for ideas for your classroom.