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# Learn How to Count with Animals

#### 2016-05-17by Sheryl Cooper

Learn to count with animals, using these ideas from our guest blogger Sheryl Cooper of Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds.

Looking for a simple and fun math activity for toddlers and preschoolers? Learn how to count with animals!

Young children learn best with hands-on activities. This is why we love to use toys as learning tools in our classroom, such as when we sorted shapes. We search for high quality toys with removable pieces that fit nicely in small hands. We especially love toys that can be used for a variety of learning activities and are adaptable for different skill levels.

## Learn How to Count with Animals

Recently our toddlers and preschoolers expressed an interest in farm animals. We had been singing “Old Mac Donald Had a Farm” and I noticed they were repeatedly asking me to read farm books. Because I like to put together activities that will be meaningful to my students, I knew this was a good time to put together a number recognition game.  I decided to use our new nesting & sorting barns & animals toy for a small group activity.

### Toddlers

I first introduced the 6 barns and animals in our toddler class. I knew what they’d love most was putting the animals in and out of the barns. I sat back and observed while they realized that some of the animals were too large to fit through the barn openings. Those that were able to recognize the numbers started matching the animals to the barns with the same numbers. I kept this activity out all week so they could continue to explore.

We also used the animals during circle time. I gave each toddler an animal to hold. We sang “Old Mac Donald Had a Farm”. As we called out each animal on the farm, they would proudly hold up their animals. Allowing young children to be part of a song is always a hit. (This is why I always have props in my circle time basket!)

### Preschoolers

Just before our small groups began, I hid the animals in our reading and writing center.  I instructed each of them to find one animal and tell me the type of animal and the number on it.

Once everyone had found and identified their animals (including letting me know what sounds they made), we brought them over to our small groups table where the barns were set up numerically.

They found their animals’ barns according to the numbers and placed them inside. They swapped animals so they could do more matching. Activities like this are a good lesson in turn taking, too.

When they each had an animal in their hands once again, we walked to the other side of the table for some animal matching on the backs of the barns.

We started out taking turns, and then everyone moved their animals around together.

I could have ended the activity here, but decided to add one more step to this small group activity. I used our stamp-a-scene farm set and paper from our doodle pad.

I drew lines on the paper with a few farm animals stamped on the left side.

As the preschoolers identified each animal on the paper, they found the matching stamps.

It was then their turn to do some stamping, moving left to right.

What I love about these activities is that they can also be done at home as an independent activity. With summer approaching, my preschool parents are asking about ways they can strengthen number recognition skills at home. These are exactly the types of ideas I am going to suggest. They are playful, hands-on, and fun!

Next on my list? Use these farm stamps to create a farm storybook!

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### Sheryl Cooper

Sheryl is the founder of Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds, a website full of activities for toddlers and preschoolers. She has been teaching this age group for over 15 years in the Pacific Northwest. Sheryl loves to share her passion with teachers, parents, grandparents, and anyone with young children in their lives. Sheryl is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.