Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Number Tunnels- Easy Counting Activity for Toddlers

How can you introduce toddlers to numbers?

We love to introduce any concept to toddlers in the same way we teach anything else… through play and daily life activities! You can read all about introducing math skills to toddlers here.

Over their early years, kids will learn many different math related concepts through daily life activities and playful activities. Learning to count, say number names, and recognize numbers are a few of the first things that my kids are usually interested in.

Today we're going to share some simple ways to get kids exploring numbers and a fun number tunnel activity! I even have a video with a quick tutorial at the end of this post!

These number tunnels were inspired by two beloved toddler approved activities in our archives- Indoor Counting Croquet and Alphabet Tunnels.


Toddlers often love learning about “what number I am” (ie. how old am I? What number is associated with my age). My toddler is always asking how old she is and then telling me. She loves to show me that many numbers on her fingers too. When your child’s birthday (or a friend’s) come up, this is a great time to talk about ages and the numbers associated when them. You can also count birthday candles, numbers on fingers, etc.

Playful activities

What are some playful ways to expose kids to numbers? We’ve collected 25 hands on math activities that we love here. You won’t want to miss them!

Number Tunnels

Our Number Tunnels activity is one of our favorite ways to explore numbers with kids! These tunnels are so fun and easy to put together and allow for such a playful way to talk about numbers while being active and having a lot of fun!

Materials You Need for Number Tunnels:

  • Balls (or toy cars or anything that moves)
  • Blue Painters Tape
  • Cardstock paper (in a variety of colors)
  • Marker
  • Scissors

How to play with Number Tunnels:
  • To get started, all you need to do is cut each piece of paper in half longwise (or hot dog style as I like to say).
  • Next, write a number in the middle of each paper strip (1-5 or 1-10 depending on your child).
  • After that, fold the ends of each strip about 1 inch and then tape each short end of the paper to the floor. The ends should be taped to the floor and the center should stick up like an arch.
  • Now you’re ready to roll the balls (or cars) through the tunnels!

How to talk about numbers:

As your child plays, you can sportscast a bit saying, “Wow, you got the ball through the #2 tunnel” or asking questions like, “which number are you going to roll through next?” or “Can you find how old you are? Roll the ball through that number.”

You can also start with the #1 tunnel and encourage your child to count 1-5 or 1-10… rolling the balls through the tunnels in order 1,2,3,4…. Or backwards (depending on how old they are).

Movement & Learning Together

When kids get their bodies moving while also learning new concepts, it actually helps them remember the information better. Getting their bodies moving and rolling, bending down, running, pulling, grabbing, etc. is such a great way to get their brains and bodies working at the same time.

Did you enjoy this simple number tunnel activity? Here are a few other fun ways to play with numbers:

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