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8 Fun number matching ideas for teaching kindergarten math

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Keep reading to find out how to get this Apple Tree Activity for free.

Building an understanding of number language can be tricky with early years children, but it provides a solid basis with which to explore number sense. Naming numbers and learning to read the number names is crucial to a lot of activities in early math.

There are lots of different activities you can use to practice matching the number word and numeral together. Listed below are 8 fun and engaging maths activities suitable for kindergarten or Foundation Year prep children.


Learning to write the numeral to match the word. This requires reading and recognising the numeral shape. Here I've used sand in a tray (magic sand is actually extra fun because it stays in shape with more ease) and used these number word cards which you can >>>> download free here. Place the card in the tray and see if the child can draw the numeral to match. It might be easier to have the numeral recorded somewhere nearby (wooden number, printed list or written on a whiteboard).


Place chickpeas, rice or sand in a bowl and hide some numbers, the deeper the bowl the better. Here I've used some wooden numbers and chickpeas. Then give students a set of tongs (to keep building those fine-motor skills) and, using the free number cards from above, let students find the matching numeral.

You can extend this in a number of ways by getting students to record the numeral found. Write the numeral and the number word together or draw how many that numeral represents.


Playdough is such a great tool for early childhood education because it forces children to manipulate with their fingers and helps build those muscles required for writing later. These playdough stencils were from Kmart (Aus) and are great for shaping numerals. This activity gives students the perfect hands-on opportunity to manipulate numeral shapes and reinforces numeral shapes for later lessons.

Extension activities could involve placing the playdough numeral next to the number word (use the same free cards as above) or writing the numeral out under the playdough version on a whiteboard.


Nothing engages today's students more than digital manipulatives. Getting the chance to move and drag objects is a great way to see what students know, with the added bonus that digital is recorded for you to assist your data collection.

These simple click and drag number matching activities can be found >>>> here and are super easy for young students to use.


One of the simplest and cheapest ways to do some number matching practice is through using toys children already have. This number car park is easy to make, just draw some boxes and a road on cardboard or a large sheet of paper. Stick some numbers on to any toy cars you have around the house and then place them in a basket. Children take the car and drive it up the road and place it in the matching car park for that number word.


Matching puzzles make for a fun activity and can be extended out to larger numbers very easily. These puzzles are from the Foundation Year Maths Number and Patterning pack but you can easily make your own with cards and stickers. Draw on the cardboard first before cutting. Write number words on one end and numerals on the other end. You can decorate them with coloured paper or stickers. Then cut and mix them up on the table. Children match up the pairs. If you're doing this in a maths centre then pair the students up so they can check each other's work.


Another fun hands-on activity is these bottle numerals with matching number words. These are from the Foundation Year Maths Number and Patterning pack but can also be made with some bottle shapes or better yet, real bottles where you can hide a numeral inside written on paper. Hide the bottles and pull out a number to match or flip this activity around and hide the number word and see if they can pair it with the bottle. Sequence the number words, numeral bottles and then both. Pull a number out and start the sequencing from a random point, sequence numerals on either side or backwards. There are so many variations.


This is a really versatile activity you can use with a number of maths games.

My subscribers can download this activity for free in the Freebie Library right now!

If you're not already a subscriber you can join now, get $5 off your first purchase and you'll get access to over 40 free teaching downloads in the library (with more added all the time).

Print the tree and laminate (as you're going to use this a lot!). Print and laminate the apples and attach one half of a velcro tab to the apple and one half to the tree. The preparation time will be worth it as you'll use this tree for so many lessons.

Then ask students to 'find' a number and place it in the basket. You can use the number cards that come with this activity if you want students to read the number word.

Students then pull the correct apple off the tree and place it in the basket.

Other ways you can use this Apple Tree Activity are:

  • pull an apple off the tree and then draw that many apples

  • take two apples off the tree and add them together

  • count in 2s with the apples

  • place the apples in sequence from 1-20

  • pull an apple off and then get the child to sequence the numbers either side of that number

  • sequence the apples backwards from 20

If you enjoyed these ideas for teaching number matching, be sure to take a look at the Foundation Year Maths Number and Patterning pack which is bursting with over 40+ hands-on activities you can use today!

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