Help your toddler learn to count by playing basketball

Post image

My son’s currently in the “I want to be big” phase.

I want to be big so I can:
- tie my shoes
- read
- eat hot sauce (I love Sriracha)

Time flies. Before I know it he’ll be doing all those things (and more). But one thing he’s been stumbling a bit with is counting.

He’ll start counting his fingers and invariably end up with 12 or 13 fingers, since he’ll skip some numbers.

We recently bought a new office chair. It came in a nice large sturdy cardboard box which we left in the living room for our son (and cat) to play with.

office chair box

A day or so later, walking by I picked up a bouncy ball and took a shot at making it into the box - from downtown!

Not surprisingly, I missed. But it caught Chris’ interest so I showed him how to dribble and take some shots.

I then had an idea 💡. Let’s play a game of basketball and the first to score 5 points wins.

I drew up a crude scorecard. Two columns (well 3 since Chris also wanted our cat to play) with 0 to 5 in a vertical line. And we’d keep track of the score by using small toys as markers.

Scorecard v1

We played 3 games and while we had fun, the approach with this scorecard was a bad idea. Even though Chris enjoyed moving the toys next to each number — the symbol 3 still doesn’t represent 3 items for my son.

And what was I thinking including zero. 😔

I gave it a bit more thought and the next day I came up with version 2 of the scorecard.

Scorecard v2

This time around no written numbers. Just a sheet of paper with vertical line down the middle and our names at the top of each half.

I used tokens from a board game to keep track of the score. As one of us made a point, we’d move a token into our scoring column.

This was a much better way to see how many items are 2 points. And when I asked him what his score was, he held up 3 fingers - which was correct.

So if you have a toddler who’s having a little trouble with counting. Give a variation of this game a shot.

Remember, at first, don’t focus on the numbers (symbols). Instead make sure they understand how many items they’re seeing or counting.

I hope this helps and have fun!