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Ordering Numbers

Below are activities to help your child learn to order numbers.  If you have number cards or magnetic numbers then you could challenge your child to order them, working up to the largest number they are happily recognising plus the next one or two.

Counting Backwards from 10

Have you been practising counting backwards from ten?  Here is a short programme to help you if you are still practising.  Can you make a number line like Rodd's?

One More and One Less

When you are playing together keep this activity in mind.

  • Gather a small set of objects (cars, dolls, cakes, pencils...)  Ask your child how many there are in the set (support accurate counting)  Can your child add one more object to the set and tell you how many they have now?
  • Can your child tell you how many there will be before they physically add one more?
  • Repeat the activity asking how many if there is one less, but only once your child is confident adding one more.


Work practically.  Children need a strong foundation based on handling objects and physically adding/ taking away/ sharing before they can begin to read or write number operations.

As always this can be incorporated into play activities.  Whatever the context start with a small set (paint colours, pasta in the pan, spades in the sand...) ask your child to count the set then ask them to add two or three more.  Can they count the new set to tell you how many there are now?  Can they begin to predict how many there will be? 

Take Away

Always work practically to introduce the idea of 'take away'.  If your child is confident with 'one more' and 'one less' then you can begin to subtract two or three objects from a set. 

You can easily incorporate this activity into play activities - (whilst playing with toy vehicles) there are 4 cars in the garage then two leave. How many are left?  Act it out for your chld if they need help then model counting how many are left.  

If you choose to use the sheet below then you cut the objects out so that your child can actually give them to the animals and count how many are left.

Bud's Number Garden

Lovely game to practise number ordering, more and less, counting small sets and counting from a group.  In each section it works to 5 in the first game then progresses to 10, then to 20.

Number Songs and Rhymes

Can you count to 20?

We often practise counting to 20 using this super song.  Each attempt goes faster the previous one.  We discuss the different ways that different people pronounce words before we start and practise saying 'twenty'.

Counting objects to 20 Lego Challenge

If your child is currently confident counting objects to 5 with accurate 1:1 correspondence (touch counting) then try to work to 6 or 7.  Don't feel you 'should' be working to any particular number, if your child is making some progress then that is all that is important.

Matching Numbers to 5

If your child is finding number recognition tricky, practise matching the numbers first.

Ordering Numbers

Begin with the numbers that your child can easily identify (1-5, 1-10, 1-14...).  Help you child to count out loud and order the jelly bean numbers. Practise starting from a lower number and pointing and saying each number to find out what comes next.  Support and model ordering the larger numbers that youtr child does not yet recognise.  If, after a few practises your child wants to stick them down in order to make their own number line then please use a long thin piece of paper so that they can all be stuck in one row (NOT the template on the second page).

Challenge:           Remember to work with those numbers your child can recognise, plus the next few.

  • Take away a bean (or cover it up) and ask your child what is missing. 
  • Mix up two beans, can they find the two that are wrong and correct them.
  • Use the jelly bean number line to practise counting on, or backwards, from a given number.
  • Those children who are confident recognising numbers to 20 could investigate jumping along their number line in steps of 2 (odd and even numbers)

Helicopter Rescue and Blast Off!

Begin with the Find a Number 1-10 (direct) section of Helicopter Rescue. Once your child is confident in recognising numbers up to ten you could explore the other number recognition sections of these games.

Minibeast Colour by Numbers

Ladybird and Leaf Counting Activity

You don't need to print this task off.  Use a thick marker to write numbers on large leaves and ask your child to put the correct number of daisies/pebbles - not real ladybirds :) - onto each.  Model strategies to help your child to check that they have the correct amount.

Purple Mash - Missing numbers to 20