7 Best Number and Counting Toys for Kids (Ages 2 – 5)

chrisAbout the Author: Hi, I’m Chris Drew and I am a child development expert. I’m a former teacher with a PhD in Education. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My Pick: Frog Balance Math Counting Game

My pick for the best number and counting toy for kids is the Frog Balance Math Counting Game. It helps children to learn numbers and counting through a hands-on play-based approach.

The best number toys for toddlers are:

  • Sum Swamp Board Game (Ages 4 – 7)
  • My First Number Train (Ages 1 1/2 – 3)
  • Rainbow Colored Counting Bears (Ages 2 – 5)
  • Frog Balance Math Counting Game (Ages 3 – 6)
  • 1-10 Peg Number Boards (Ages 3+)
  • Toy Cash Register (Ages 4+)
  • Giant Snakes & Ladders Game (Ages 4+)

Best Number and Counting Toys for Kids

1. Sum Swamp Board Game – Learning Resources (Ages 4 – 7)

Quick Review: Best for teaching children to learn to add and subtract. Great for play-based repetition to achieve mastery of basic math.

A board game that requires adding, subtracting and adding to 10. Contains 2 games: the first game requires adding and subtracting numbers on the dice to progress through the swamp. The second game involves players taking turns to flip cards and identifying two cards that add to 10. When they find a combination they shout out “I see 10!” Collect the most 10’s to win.

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Play-Based Approach: Children learn to count through playing, which helps stimulate creativity, enjoyment of learning, and increased on-task time.
  • Rapid Learning: The repetition of addition and subtraction in this game leads to rapid mastery of the content.
  • Really Fun: We love this game! It’s not just learning, it’s also actually really fun.

Keep in Mind:

  • Requires Number Mastery: Your Child will need good mastery of numbers 1 – 10. If your child can ‘show’ 8 by grouping 8 marbles together they’ll be ready for learning to add and subtract.

2. My First Number Train – Lego & Duplo (Ages 1 1/2 – 3)

Quick Review: A great game for absolute beginners (when your child doesn’t know any numbers yet).

A numbers toy for absolute beginners, this Lego-Duplo toy exposes your child to numbers. Get your child to construct their train and place numbers in the correct order on the train. It also comes with some figurines so your child can create pretend play story lines while pushing their train around their play room.

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Large Blocks: Duplo blocks are larger than Lego blocks, making them easier to play with and harder to swallow for younger children.
  • Number Exposure: This is an opportunity for your child to begin to recognize the shapes of numbers. Encourage your child to play with this toy regularly to help them start to remember the numbers.
  • Recognize Number Order: Encourage your child to list the numbers in the correct order on their train to help them begin to recognize the order of numbers.

Keep in Mind:

  • Play with your Child: Your child won’t learn without support and guidance. When playing with your child, use language a lot. Say “one” when they pick up the one block, etc. so they can start remembering the association between the written numbers and how they are said.

3. Rainbow Colored Counting Bears – California Basics (Ages 2 – 5)

Quick Review: A versatile set of counting toys that can be used for many different games between you and your child.

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Sort the bears into the correct colored cup. Count them as you sort them to see how many is in each cup. As your child grows older, these counters are versatile enough to be used for addition, subtraction and multiplication. For example, you can work on questions like “show me three groups of five bears”. The use of cups to ‘group’ the bears helps with multiplication tasks.

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Start Simple: This game starts from a very young age with children counting the amount of bears in a cup.
  • Good for Harder Games: As your child gets older, use the counters for addition, subtraction and multiplication activities.
  • Stackable: The bears can be clipped into each other to make stacks.

4. Frog Balance Math Counting Game (Ages 3 – 6)

Quick Review: A toy that helps children develop a genuine understanding of numbers. Children balance out the number ‘5’ by putting 5 frogs on the scale.

One of the hardest things about learning what numbers actually mean. Children need to learn that the number 5 represents five individual things grouped together. This balancing game works on that challenge by asking children to balance the scale – find out just how many frogs equal the number 5!

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Deep Learning: Children don’t just learn numbers, they actually learn what they mean – which is the ultimate goal for learning numbers!
  • Learn Addition: The included card deck gets students to add monkeys and place them on the scale. Once they’ve guessed the number, the child places the number on the scale to see if it balances!
  • Develop Understanding of Weight: Children will also start to understand how weight works using the scale mechanism.

5. 1-10 Peg Number Boards – WolvesWoodWorks (Ages 3+)

Quick Review: Great educational tool for showing children exactly what a number means: six means a collection of six different sticks. Helps with deepening understanding of numbers.

Another toy for developing associations between numbers and what they represent, this one asks children to fit the right amount of pegs into the number holes to reach the represented number. This is a very common tool in Montessori and Steiner-Waldorf classrooms.

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Montessori and Steiner Inspired: Montessori and Steiner classrooms encourage hands-on learning using earthy, wooden and non-technological tools such as this one.
  • Deep Learning: Children don’t just learn numbers, they actually learn what they mean – which is the ultimate goal for learning numbers!

Keep in Mind:

  • Peg Size: The pegs are very small and roll away easily. Make sure they don’t get lost (or swallowed!)

6. Toy Cash Register – Learning Resources (Ages 4+)

Quick Review: Great for practical role play games that involve using numbers in lifelike scenarios.

Every child needs a toy cash register! This one includes fake money so you can play with it out of the box. Your child can use imaginative and cooperative play to play “shop assistant” with you or other children. Do pretend shopping together and count your change!

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Authentic Contextualized Learning: Children learn actually why we use math in our everyday life. They also love role play learning activities where they can pretend to be shopping or in charge of the register.
  • Learn Addition and Subtraction: When counting change, children need to learn to add and subtract to complete the task.

Keep in Mind:

  • Guidance Required: This isn’t an absolute beginner activity. Children should already have a basic understanding of addition and subtraction in order to play this game.

7. Giant Snakes & Ladders Game – Pressman (Ages 4+)

Quick Review: One of the best classic games for learning numbers. Your child rolls the dice and counts how many moves to make. Absolutely addictive for kids!

Here’s a classic counting game for your child! Roll the dice and count how many steps to take on the board game. Children learn through repetition – every turn, they need to read the numbers on the dice and count the corresponding moves.

Benefits for Learning Math:

  • Repetition: Completion of the game requires ongoing counting of the numbers 1 – 6. Use two dice for ‘adding’ up to 12.
  • Play-Based Learning: Practice counting through play rather than rote learning or memory cards.
  • Extra Large Board: This board is great for kids – designed to be extra simple and extra large.
  • Kids Love Snakes & Ladders: I’ve been a teacher for 10 years and I’ve never come across a kid who doesn’t like a game of snakes & ladders.

What to Look for in Counting Toys for Children

Play-Based Learning

Play-based learning involves learning through games rather than simple memorization. As we get older, we start to call this game-based or ‘gamified’ learning. When learning in a play scenario, children stay engaged and interested for longer, helping them to spend more time on task to reach mastery faster. Plus, it’s a whole lot more fun!

In some of the above toys, children would engage in cooperative play and imaginative play to reach their goals. These forms of play also help children to develop social skills and creativity, which are great for children’s development.

Correct Developmental Level

Good games help guide children’s learning. We don’t just throw them in the deep end – we give them developmentally appropriate activities that help them learn and develop incrementally. If your child is only just starting to learn what numbers are, get them a game that’s simple and just teaches them to learn the numbers 0 – 9. If they already have mastery of the numbers, then you can step up to a game that involves addition and subtraction.

Teach what Numbers Represent

Knowing how to count from 1 to 10 is not enough. A child also needs to know what those numbers represent. I like games that get children to count out 6 on counters, using tokens, or on a game board. This will help them to have a deeper understanding of exactly what a number is and why math is important to our lives.

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of the best number games for kids has been helpful to you. Don’t forget to also get your kids games for science (check out my list of the best STEM toys for kids), games for math and games for literacy (such as this list of the best toys for learning to read). The early years are such a great time in a child’s life – enjoy it while it lasts!

All the best,

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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