My 2-year-old is just starting to learn counting. A few weeks ago, if he saw two of an item, e.g. a clock, he would say "clock clock". In the last week, he started saying "two clock". Although he can name all the numerals 1-9, he cannot (or will not?) exhibit a count of any number of objects more numerous than 2. Still, this is the beginning of numeracy.

I want to develop his numeracy. Sesame Street has counting games, but he's not allowed to watch TV. Does anyone have suggestions for proven games or activities to develop numeracy in young toddlers?

  • Our daughter, being 2, had a problem counting more than two things: she'd take first object in one had, second object in the other hand, and literally failed to grasp the third. Now that she's 2.5 she can reason about 3 or 4 objects but often has hard time telling 3 from 4. With this, she can recite counting to ten in two languages. It just doesn't map to objects easily.
    – 9000
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 15:16
  • Just a followup: I model counting objects for my son. If he points at a duck at the park, I tell him, "yes, a duck. Look there are 5 ducks. One duck, two ducks, three ducks, four ducks, five ducks". Stuff like that. I can certainly understand that this is sufficient; he is absorbing the skill at his own pace, and when he's ready he'll show me. I'm just looking for programs that ambitious parents can use to accelerate the process. Card games? Some other kind of counting game? I'm not sure such a game would even work with my active toddler, but I'd like to try.
    – ziggurism
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


I am not a pedagogue, but I've been told children in their early years can comprehend numbers which are the same of their age. Two year old's can comprehend two, Three year old's can comprehend three, and so on...

Counting to ten is not the same. That is more like reciting a nursery rhyme. My daughter of two and a half can count to ten, in that manner. She can even point to each of her dolls and 'count' them by saying the number in the sequence but I'm quite sure she is not able to comprehend that there are 'four' of them.

It takes time to evolve nummeracy, and like with language some children evolve faster than others. It seems to me your child is doing ok.

I would just like with language use number concepts with him, which are just out of his reach. Like counting three buttons "one, two, three" and then saying "there are three buttons on the table". Things like that. At some point he will suddenly grasp the concept, but I wouldn't expect it to happen very soon.

  • "children in their early years can comprehend numbers which are the same of their age" Untill how old?
    – bjb568
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 17:16

My son will be 3 this week, and is able to consistently count objects up to 30. I can spread some coins out on the table and ask him, "How many coins are there on the table?" and he will begin counting them and moving them to one side. He'll do the same if/when he gets a small package of gummibears while potty training.

Since we're raising him bilingual, I've done a lot of work with English letters and numbers and started counting objects with him when he was 2 - his building blocks, etc.

  • That's impressive, he can count objects up to 30 at age 3. How did you accomplish it? Did you do something special to teach him? Or is he just a fast learner and picked it up?
    – ziggurism
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 23:18
  • I started working on his numbers and alphabet once he started using basic words, and he's also a fast learner despite learning two languages at once. We often stop to count the 'blue cars' or the 'green cars', etc to reinforce both pronunciation and learning.
    – Darwy
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 23:48

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