How to Teach Numbers 1-10 in Kindergarten


Number sense and learning to write and use numbers 0-10 is a pretty big deal the first nine weeks of kindergarten.

Here is a set of materials that helps me teach kindergarteners how to form the numerals and teach them how to count one-to-one all the way to ten.

How to teach numbers in kindergarten

Because, let’s be honest.

Lots of kinders come in counting to ten skills – and then also – lots don’t. I have found that it’s very common to have incoming students that can only count up to four or five objects correctly.

Here’s what I created to use in my classroom and you can use it too.

Teach them with a story

Just like I’ve learned that teaching procedures with a story is very effective, I’ve learned that teaching numbers with a story is effective too.

But I didn’t really like any books that existed because they didn’t teach students literally “this is how you count” and “this is how to make a 4.” And that’s just what I needed.

So, I created the monster numbers book and also turned it into an audiobook.

My kinders love it and it helps me teach a lot in a short amount of time.

How to teach numbers in kindergarten - audio book and read aloud

It talks about the process of counting 1:1 all the way up to four.

It capitalizes on the fact that most students can count that many objects but pushes them to see that counting uses a pattern that they can apply to every number after.

As a teacher, you simply use the repeated phrases from the book “When you touch one, you say a number. When you touch another one, you say the next number” when you are working with kids who need help counting and touching objects one-to-one.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - how to write each number

After that, it goes over easy-to-remember number formation chants to practice forming the numerals correctly.

So you can have students practice doing this with you as you read – they quickly learn to chant along with you and can even draw numbers in the air with their finger as you read aloud.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - my kinders love these and it works

Of course, the way to maximize teaching numbers with young students is to do this more than once.

You can print this story and read it as often as you want.

To make it more fun and interactive, let’s talk about how to engage the student’s whole body in order to learn how to write numbers even faster.

Teach them with a video

A video can take learning how to write numbers and make it more interactive. So, use this free Monster Numbers video for kindergarten to your advantage!

We love throwing it up on a big screen to practice forming numbers with arms, elbows, legs, and heads. So much fun!

How to teach numbers in kindergarten - I love this - it totally works

It also works great if you break it up into parts to focus on just a couple of numbers!

Enjoy this free how to write numbers video – it’s about 10 minutes so it is a mini-lesson in itself, but should help get kinders moving while they’re learning.

Now that you’ve laid a good foundation by reading and re-reading Monster Numbers and showing the video a few times – it’s time to give the students practice in small groups.

Teach them in small groups

Have your students create their own little Monster Numbers book and “capture” monsters by completing the pages.

I like using this as a lesson with my guided math groups.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - mini handwriting books

The mini-book starts with the number 5, since that’s where most kinders need work on counting 1:1 when they enter kindergarten.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - learn how to write numerals

Do a few pages together, using the chants you learned from the book and video, and let students get some pencil and paper practice.

Send the little books home so that parents can see what students are working on.

Use the number handwriting chants any time you can

Now that your students can practically recite the whole video along – it’s time to use those easy-to-remember chants any time your students are working on writing numbers, or need help with writing numbers correctly.

Whenever students are attempting to write on their own, or you are writing numbers in front of the whole class (like during calendar time) – use the chants!

Prompt students with a few words and let them finish saying it aloud.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - how to form numerals handwriting chants

Send home a set of the chants to go home to parents so they can use them at home too!

Hopefully, these will earn some at-home fridge space for a few weeks. {wink}

Teach what is a ten frame

Help your students quickly develop number sense by helping them see numbers in an organized way.

Introduce a ten frame – using a ten frame has been critical for me to teach so many math skills. But, let me make it easy for you. Your kids have already been exposed to one!

The “monster keeper” from the book is a ten frame.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten - easy to use manipulatives

It’s a great visual for kinders and you can print as many monster manipulatives you’d like.

Use the ten frame whole group or with your small groups as needed -they are fantastic for exploring how to count, touching objects 1:1, and getting to know the layout of a ten frame.

Teach them how counters of any kind can be placed into a ten frame to help objects stay organized and make it easier to count.

Down the line in the school year, students will learn that 5 on top and 2 on the bottom is 7 without having to count each object. That’s powerful when it comes to teaching your students how to subitize larger numbers.

For now, teach them what a ten frame is and use it often for counting.

Related: How to make ten frame manipulatives

Use some independent activities

You’ve taught counting 1:1 and how to form numbers as a whole group, in small groups and now you need to give students lots of practice doing this on their own using independent activities.

There are tons of printables, simple games, and center activities out there that can help you accomplish this.

I made a center activity that didn’t need an explanation of how to do it. This way I could use it at the beginning of the school year when kinders aren’t very independent workers yet.

Since most students come into kindergarten with the general concept of how to do a puzzle – I simply made ten frames into number puzzles to bring it all together.

How to teach numbers in kindergarten - easy puzzles for a center

There are two different kinds of puzzles to allow for differentiation.

The 3-piece number puzzles all have the same shape which means they have to count if they are to get the puzzle correct.

Revisit what worked

If you’ve been teaching students how to count and how to form numbers:

  • whole group
  • in small groups
  • with independent activities

and using the number chants whenever you can – your students will be well on their way to using numbers – not just learning them – in kindergarten!

Since the monster number ten frames are kinder-friendly, it’s easy to use them again when it’s time to introduce a new skill.

Once they know numbers to 10, it’s time to dig deeper into numbers 0-5.

A special note – making 5 is a huge concept in kindergarten, so don’t skip, ignore or gloss over it!

And then you’re ready to focus on digging deeper into numbers 5-10.

Since I kind of loathe worksheets, I’ve made ten frame workmats. They are great for giving students a target number to make in different ways.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten manipulatives and recording worksheet

Students practice different ways of making numbers 5-10 You can use the workmats along with the recording sheets if you want. 

They were fun to make and I love the idea of even using bingo-daubers for representing items in a ten frame. In this case, those daubers will create fantastic monsters.

Get Monster Numbers

If you love the idea of using this printable book and any of the printable resources, you can purchase the Monster Numbers Pack here:

You’ll get:

– the 35-page printable “Monster Numbers” book
– Audio recording (mp3) of this book read aloud by me
– CD label image
– 3 differentiated sets of number puzzles (Matching numbers to ten frames 1-10)
– Handwriting 0-10 chant poster/parent resource
– 11 page “My Monster Numbers” mini-book
– 5 workmats and 5 matching recording sheets
– Manipulative monster pictures and monster-themed ten frames (Monster-Keepers)

Bonus: Teach them with playdough

I love teaching things in tactile ways. Playdough is a staple material in my kindergarten classroom.

So, I made sure to create an independent activity that uses playdough to practice forming numbers and counting to ten.

Teaching numbers 1-10 in kindergarten with playdough mats

These bonus playdough numeral formation and ten frame work mats still feature the monster keeper and familiar monsters – but transition students into using a plain ten frame to count their playdough monster balls.

You can simply laminate or slide the pages into a plastic sleeve and you’re set to go!

Let’s wrap it up

Teach numbers 1-10 in kindergarten by using: whole group, small group and independent activities.

Be sure to use books, videos, chants and get students moving and manipulating objects or playdough whenever you can to make it hands-on.

You’re sure to maximize the time you spend teaching numbers to ten this way.

I hope that the Monster Numbers video and printable resources can help make it easier to quickly implement in your kindergarten classroom.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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  1. Is there anything with monster numbers for 11-20? My students are struggling with remembering to how to write “teen” numbers. And Implemented these monster numbers and learning numbers went MUCH smoother this year! 🙂

    1. Hi Emily,
      I don’t have anything right now that is magic for me other than the work we do in small groups and during our calendar binder time. Wish I did though, I love hearing how it helped your kiddos get off to a great start!
      – Leslie

  2. I think this is a great way to approach the subject. Offering children easy to remember sayings as a way to remember the way to write numbers is a great approach. Well done!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing these!!! I used them this week with my Kinders and they LOVED them!!!! I’ll have a post up about my centers with a link to these some time tonight!;)
    Thanks again!!!
    Little Warriors

  4. I love the CCSS Packet I bought:)
    I am wondering what Math Book are you using??
    We are a charter in AZ and just had some SAxon Math donated to us…we are in the middle of tring to figure it out…any suggestions how to gear it to the CCSS??
    Thanks, Barbara

    1. Go completely out of order and speed it up about 3x! Saxon is designed to be cyclical, but I haven’t found that to line up with what my kinders need. That’s my fast and truly honest answer. We use Saxon and it does not line itself up well with the CCSS at all (in my opinion). That’s why I’m really trying the guided math thing this year.

  5. WOO HOO!!!!!!! YEAH!!!! I’m so excited about the MONSTER NUMBERS that I can hardly contain myself! I’m starting the year with the Furry Friends theme from Trend and incorporating books like Go Away Big Green Monster and One Hungry Monster for math! THIS IS PERFECT! I feel like I just won the lottery!!! MUAH!!!!

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