The Little Book of Numbers


3-5 years

Type of Content:


Related Activities

Number Stones

An idea for numbers

by Judith Dancer and Carole Skinner

This lovely tactile activity encourages children's interest in looking at and handling natural materials, and will involve them in a discussion about numbers and their order.

You can look here for further background information about numbers in the Early Years.

What are they learning?

Identifying and ordering numerals; enjoying achieving what they set out to do

What you need

  • A collection of small smooth pebbles

  • Ten of the pebbles numbered one to ten

  • A large basket for the pebbles

  • A one to ten number track or number cards

What you do

  • Look at, handle, examine and discuss the pebbles. Draw the children's attention to any natural properties and introduce descriptive words such as ‘smooth’ and ‘round’.

  • Show that numbers are written on some of the pebbles, and suggest that the children could collect the numbered pebbles.

  • The children take handfuls of pebbles from the basket and look for any that are numbered.

  • Decide together whether all the pebbles from one to ten have been found; check by laying the pebbles on the number track.

  • Arrange the unnumbered pebbles in lines to make patterns.

What you say

  • Discuss the texture and shape of the pebbles, and ask questions such as “How would you describe this pebble?”

  • Support children in finding and identifying the numerals on the pebbles. You could use fingers to indicate the number as you pick up the pebble – for instance, “Look, I've found this number” and hold up five fingers.

  • Ask questions such as “Does anyone know this number? It comes after three on the number line. Ayesha, can you give us a clue about the number you've found?”

  • Make comments such as “I wonder how we can find out if we've got all the numbers from one to ten?”

  • Challenge the children to see how quickly they can arrange the number pebbles in order.

Ready for more?

  • Children secretly choose a numbered pebble. Using that number they make a line with unnumbered pebbles. Everyone else tries to guess what pebble number they chose.

  • Write numbers on all the pebbles, and the children collect pebbles of the same number (e.g. all the sevens).

  • Write numbers up to twenty on the pebbles and make a pebble number line in the outdoor area where there is more space.

Where to go next: Telephone numbers
Copyright © 2018 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. All rights reserved. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without prior permission in writing from the publishers.