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“1…2…3…1…2…3” Sicily kept counting over and over again. She counted everything in sight once she learned how to count to 3.

And 3 is still her favorite number. At night, she tells me “3 night kisses Ma.”

I introduced counting to Sicily by counting the steps every time we walked up or down them. Once she started her 1,2,3 counting adventure, I knew she was ready to learn more about numbers and counting.

Related: What to Teach and When to Teach it

This is when I introduced counting mats.

These little printables are simply a number and a circle to place objects in. They help with number recognition, one to one correspondence, hand-eye coordination, counting, and quantifying.

The best part is they are super flexible and can be adapted to fit any theme or interest.

During our Christmas Toddler Theme, we used counting mats with jingle bells.


During our Beach Toddler Theme, we went to the beach to collect seashells. Then we used the seashells with our counting mats. During this theme, Sicily wanted to extend her learning by counting all the seashells as we placed them back into the container.

beach toddler theme-shell counting

When learning about winter, we pretended cotton balls were snowballs for counting. You could also use marshmallows. I introduced this counting invitation after reading Snowball Fight! by Jimmy Fallon.


Our zoo theme was perfect for adding the counting mats, but I adapted them a bit. I turned the mats into cages and laid them out with animal crackers.


One of the last counting mat activities we did was during our All About Me theme. When we learned about nutrition, I pulled out the fruit counters to use on the counting mats.


You can adapt these counting mats to any theme or interest your little one wants to learn about.

Happy Learning!