Fun Math Activities for Ages 2 1/2 to 3 1/2

Over the next few days, I’m going to focus on our math activities. I thought that before I share what my older kids are doing these days, I’d share some of the activities they did when they were younger.  This post highlights a few things I did with my kids for math in the 2 1/2-3 1/2 age range.

Here are some activities I did with ED when she was 2 1/2.  She was just learning to count up to 4 objects at the time. You could do this with any theme — flowers, ladybugs, trucks or whatever your tot is interested in:

One-to-one correspondence, counting out objects:

We used Montessori beads for counting:


And we made up all kinds of little games with numbers:

We used little wooden numbers and put them over our oversized dice: 

I used numbers and various fun manipulatives we got at craft stores or the dollar store: 

For this activity I made lots of black strips with numbers and crayon-drawn snowflakes.  ED really enjoyed using the snowflake stamp to punch out the snowflakes from the strip.  I told her she could also glue snowflakes onto the strip, but she wasn’t interested.

For the last activity I glued very small homemade snowflakes onto Popsicle sticks.  I covered a cereal box with aluminium foil and contact paper and stuck on numbers (again from our mailbox set).  Then I used a knife to put slits next to the number.  ED LOVED this activity! She did it over and over.  After a while I held up 4 (and 2 and 3, etc) snowflake sticks and asked her how many there were. She was correct each time!

We were VERY active with math when my son was young. We did a lot of jumping on numbers (and letters!), racing to find 3 trucks and things like that!


Simple counting with any object on hand:

Number recognition with Fly Swatter Math!

I called out a number, she swatted the number as fast as she could!

Clothes Pin Counting Cards like these Dinosaur Egg Counting Cards from Making Learning Fun. The child puts a clothes pin on the correct answer.

Numbers and stickers:

Math Links:

Counting (you could do this with number recognition):

This counting Pete the Cat button counting activity was so cute, it’s also worth a mention!

ED loved this button activity and did it independently several times while I worked with the others. It was made by Heidi and she offers it free over at Heidisongs Resources:

You’ll find lots of other very cute Pete the Cat resources at this post about our Pete the Cat unit and More Pete the Cat Resources.

Grid Games:

I’ve used lots of the math grids made by Karen over at We took turns rolling a die and covering a square with that number of tokens. These games are great for learning about one-to-one correspondence.

Here’s a link to the squirrel grid game you see below or here’s another link to a cute puppy grid game. She has a good selection of themes and printable to choose from. Be sure to check out her website.

 Be sure to visit yesterday’s post to download a free Apple-themed grid game:


Here are some counting kitty pages I made for ED a year or so ago:

ED has been asking for her own independent work while the older kids are working on their studies. This is an activity she has no problem completing on her own… if not a bit on the easy side. She practices writing the number as well as filling in the bar graph.

I drew the kitty myself using a computer drawing pad Hubby got me for my birthday.:)

Click here to download the Counting Kitties Activity Sheets (there’s a total of 9 pages):

Counting Kitties Activity Sheets


Teen Numbers:

Here is an activity I made for ED when she was ready to tackle the teen numbers.

When ED is counting, she often skips some of the numbers after 13. I am using a homemade version of the Montessori seguin board (Download the packet here: Seguin Board Work-Animals  ).  It’s a board with lots of 10s in a row. The child then places a digit over the zero to make 11, 12, 13, etc.

1) First ED counted the number of animals on the cards I made.
2) Then she pulled out the same number of beads-one golden bead bar (10) + single beads.  I made a big deal about the group of 10 beads being called her special ‘golden beads.’ She promptly fell in love with them!
3) Next she chose the proper digit and placed it in the ones column to make it “one ten and one” (for 11), “one ten and two” (for 12) and so forth.

If you’re interested in the printout packet I made of the seguin materials you can download them here.

Seguin Board Work – Animals

You can also buy a proper wooden seguin board (such as this (from Alison’s Montessori) or  this teens and tens board from Kid Advance), but I never used them enough with my older two to warrant the price.

Other resources:

I got a great question about how to learn more about Montessori method of introducing the teens and tens to your 3-6 year old. There is a series of videos at ehow that shows a teacher using the seguin board and Montessori beads.  Teen Board-Montessori video  In the sidebar you’ll find related articles and links.

2 Responses

  1. Leah says:

    We make up games with cars and clothes. I also use magnetic number and letter boards as well. Additionally I love using flashcards. I found some preschool ones in a local bookshop.

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