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Number Recognition Activities For Young ESL Learners

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Math! It all starts with the three steps to learning numbers. But, because not all students find this easy, we need to practice in a fun way to help students learn. So I want to share one of my favorite activities to help your students recognize numbers and their quantity.

For this activity, all you're going to need are some number flashcards, numbered paper cups, some small pom-pom balls, a teddy bear or soft toy, and to make things fun, a doctor's outfit. This activity can be used to teach any range of numbers, but make sure you have enough paper cups for all the numbers you want to practice.

To get started, position the class in a semi-circle with you the teacher in the middle. Place the number flashcards in the correct order on the board behind you for students to see.

First, we need to practice route counting with the class using the number flashcards. You can make this fun by having the class count quietly and then loudly. Or if your students are able to you can have them count one by one around a circle.

Next, introduce your teddy bear and explain to the class that Teddy is sick. But, don't worry, because today we are all going to become doctors to help teddy feel better.

Introduce the pom-pom balls and explain that Teddy needs some medicine. Pick a randomly numbered cup, show it to the class, and ask students what number it is. If they some trouble recognizing it, you can use the number flashcards on the board as a reference.

Next, you're going count out that number of pom-poms with the class, putting them in the cup as you do. Be sure to count slowly one by one so that it's easy for students to follow.

Now that you have shown the class an example, each student is going to be given a randomly numbered cup and asked to prepare medicine for teddy. Once again, for those students that get stuck, they can check their number by counting the flashcards on the whiteboard.

In terms of classroom management, you can have students work at tables or in groups on the floor. Once students have finished, they bring their cups back to Teddy at the front.

To finish, pick a few cups to check. Try choosing numbers that you know students have been struggling with so that they get the extra practice.

Give this activity a go with your young ESL students and let me know how it goes in the comments!

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1 comment


Glendon Plaira
Glendon Plaira

I will try this one tomorrow!

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