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Clever Strategies for Teaching Number Recognition You Must Try!

Clever Strategies for Teaching Number Recognition You Must Try!

These strategies for teaching number recognition are a must  for teaching kindergarten and preschool kids subitizing, counting and numbers…

Strategies For Teaching Number Recognition

Clever Strategies For Teaching Number Recognition

You must try these simple strategies for teaching number recognition with your Kindergarten, Preschool or Foundation aged kids. Threading beads onto pipe cleaners might seem basic but it is a very effective way to help kids learn early numeracy concepts whilst building their fine motor strength.

So grab yourself some pipe cleaners and beads and get creating these activities for teaching this huge range of math concepts:

  • Comparing quantity
  • Subitizing
  • Learning colours
  • Counting and matching one to one correspondence
  • Number recognition 1-10
  • Number Recognition (11-19)
  • Simple Addition
  • Making 10
  • Place Value 10’s & 1’s

Don’t forget to check out our free teaching resources and teacher worksheets page to find more brilliant teaching resources, ideas and strategies for teaching  number recognition!
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pipe cleaner fine motor number activities*this post contains affiliate links

Benefits Of Fine Motor Activities For Teaching Number Recognition

Fine motor activities are very important in the Foundation Years classroom they help kindergarten and preschoolers to build the strength needed for future tasks including:

  • writing
  • holding small items
  • buttoning  clothing
  • turning pages
  • eating
  • cutting with scissors
  • using computer keyboards

Read more about the importance of Fine Motor activities in this Article.

It is important to plan enjoyable and meaningful fine motor activities, especially for those children who experience difficulties in this area and who do not enjoy traditional drawing, art and craft or playdough experiences. Your kids will love using beads and pipe cleaners for counting, rather than using usual counters, they won’t even realise they are exercising their hand muscles, let alone learning about numbers!



Pipe Cleaner Number Recognition

Strategies For Teaching Number Recognition

These threading beads on pipe cleaners activities are so simple to prep and are perfect hands-on games for teaching number recognition. the hardest thing is getting your equipment ready!


  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Pony beads
  • Sticky Notes, labels or number beads
  • Dice


  • Decide which numbers you are working on and write the number words or digits onto a sticky label and fix it to a pipe cleaner.

Pipe Cleaner Number Recognition Numbers


Pipe Cleaner & Pony Bead Strategies For Teaching Number Recognition

Activity One – Counting – one to one correspondence

  • We wrote the number digits on one side of the sticky note and the number words on the other.
  • The children then selected a pipe cleaner and threaded the matching number of pony beads onto each pipe cleaner.
  • We encouraged the kids to count out loud as they added each bead, they were reminded not to say the next number until the next bead had been added to the pipe cleaner, showing them that numbers said are being used to say ‘how many’, building one-to-one correspondence.
  • We also reinforced the idea that counting is a strategy:
    • “Good mathematicians use counting to find out how many there are altogether”
    • “Good mathematicians say the right number when they touch or add a bead to the pipe cleaner”
    • “Good mathematicians can find out how many they need by looking at the digit”
  • You can also use magnetic numbers instead of labels if you like!



Pipe Cleaner Number Recognition threading

Click here if you want to get more freebies!


Time is Precious, Save Yours With These Number Recognition Activities!

Egg Carton Maths Product
0-10 Hole Punch Cards
FREEBIE Number Sorting Think Boards


Subitizing and counting beads

Activity Two – Subitizing and Matching Quantity

For this activity we wrote the numbers 1-10 on sticky notes and attached them to individual pipe cleaners.

  • The children took turns to roll the dice and match the number on the dice to the digit on the pipe cleaner.
  • We focussed on asking how many dots without counting and talked about what they saw e.g. when a 4 was rolled we talked about that it looked like. It looks like one dot in each corner or two and two.
  • Next they were asked “how many beads do you need to get?”
  • We encouraged the children to go to a separate area to get the right amount of beads. They could only go once and they couldn’t get too few or too many, they had to come back with just the right amount. This process develops a set of different counting skills. Children find this difficult compared to getting one at a time from a container right in front of them. It is a good way to extend and deepen the counting strategy.
  • Or you could continue as above encouraging one-to-one correspondence depending on what your children need.

Click here if you want to get more freebies!


Counting beads on pipe cleaners

Activity Three – Counting Backwards

This activity works perfectly after completion of activity one

  • Once the beads have been added and counted onto each pipe cleaner  encourage the student to practice counting backwards by removing a bead at the same time as saying the number name.
  • Build the language of ‘one less’ by talking about what happens when you take one away, matching the backwards chant of 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 to the number of beads on the pipe cleaner.


Pipe Cleaner Addition

Activity Four – Simple addition problems

For this activity we wrote simple addition problems onto sticky notes.

  • The children selected a problem and used the beads to act out the addition process. This process reinforces the idea that addition is the joining and combining of quantities to find out how many altogether. Using different colours helps to connect the quantity to the digit.

Addition activities with pipe cleaners and beads

  • The activity can be extended for a range of different problems. It’s a great way to extend math language and vocabulary.
  • For another variation we created a matching activity where the students matched the beads on the pipe cleaner to the correct problem on a sticky note.

matching problems to pipe cleaners


Want More Effective Strategies For Teaching Number Recognition? Click the images to see more…

Addition Think Board
Subitising & Number Recognition think board
Egg Carton Tens Frame Activities


Teaching teen numbers

Activity Five – Teen numbers

Children find the teen numbers tricky for a number of different reasons.  It is difficult for them to hear the subtle sound differences between ty  numbers (thirt-ty) and teen numbers (thir-teen), and this is one of the main reasons they may have difficulties.

  • For example say 13 and 30 without emphasising the difference yourself.  When we say these numbers out loud both have a the ‘thr’ sound first and a ‘t’ sound at the end but the two numbers are written differently in digits…. tricky!
  • What’s even more confusing are the numbers 11 and 12 that are not even teen numbers!  When working on the numbers 11-19 special care is definitely needed and a lot of practice!

In this activity we wrote the teen numbers and number words onto sticky notes.

  • The children selected a teen number to make and used two different coloured pony beads to make each number. We talked about how we say the teen numbers and how it is different to how we say other numbers. We also focussed on the idea that the teen part of the number means ten. For example thirteen is 3 ten but we don’t say 3 ten we say thirteen.


Making 10 hands-on activities

Activity 6 – Making 10

For our last pipe cleaner and beads activity we focussed on all the ways to make 10.

  • Write the number 10 onto the sticky note and ask the children to find as many different ways to make 10 using 2 different coloured beads. We scribed the matching number sentences onto a whiteboard for them.

You can also create opportunities for simple colour matching activities or even extend into larger numbers. Students can make bigger numbers in groups of tens and ones. There are so many possibilities from cheap but very effective everyday classroom objects. Do leave us a comment with your ideas below, we love to hear what you’ve been up to!



Time is Precious, Save Yours With These Number Recognition Activities!

Egg Carton Maths Product
0-10 Hole Punch Cards
FREEBIE Number Sorting Think Boards

Want More Effective Strategies For Teaching Number Sense? Try these ideas from Yara at www.SeaofKnowledge.org


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Hole Punch Number Recognition Activities





By A+ Team

The A Plus Teacher has been a Primary School Numeracy Curriculum Leader and Coach for 16 years and now advisors A Plus Teaching Resources about Teaching Numeracy The A+ Team is Passionate About helping educators to save time so that they can concentrate on the most important job in the world... Teaching! The Team Creates Time Saving, Tried & Tested, Hands-on, Teaching Resources, Ideas, Organisers, Checklists, Printables, Posters, & Games! Visit the Website for Some FREE Teacher Worksheets & ideas! & Join our FACEBOOK Community

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