Hungry Caterpillar Count Up for Your Three Year Old

Hungry Caterpillar Count Up for Your Three Year Old

Inside: simple counting game for three-year-olds

Need a simple activity to count to ten?

This hungry caterpillar game is a great way to reinforce counting, and gain a better understanding that a group of objects are represented by a number name.

Sounds simple, right?

Not really. The truth is that many times we rush preschoolers right on through rather than taking the time to understand quantity.

We assume just because they can count to ten, they also understand what ten really means. But they don’t always truly understand. And without a solid foundation in how a group of ten is made, taken apart, and built back up again, we are doing a disservice for our children by not taking the time to do this.

So, I am here to help bridge the gap.

And the best part?

Your children are learning by doing. They are taking a sticker, feeding the caterpillar, and counting along the way. That’s a pretty inviting way to count to ten, and they are connecting movements with thinking.

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hungry caterpillar counting game

Counting to ten may come at different ages.

When you understand the progression of learning numbers, it can also help you have more patience with your child’s growth.

For example, progress through learning numbers typically looks like this:

  • First, children begin to count. This is simply memorizing a sequence of numbers. You may notice them counting out loud.

  • Next, they learn one-to-one correspondence. This means they are matching one, and only one number, with each item in a set of objects. Here, we want them to touch as they count each object.

  • At a higher level, they begin to apply reasoning as they understand quantity. They are also beginning to understand the concept of more and less than.

When you understand this progression, you can better understand where your child is and what to focus on. Here, we are focusing on counting each object as we move closer to ten.

RELATED: Want more math ideas? You can find an entire collection of math activities here.

three-year-old counting game

So let’s get this counting game set up!

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Set this up for your three-year-old in minutes.

  • Make your caterpillar by gluing pom poms on your craft stick.

  • Tape down the sentence strip.

  • Use a marker to write the numbers 1-10.

  • Cut out the food stickers from the sticker book listed above. I like to cut the stickers up into groups of 10 so they are easier for little hands to move around.

RELATED: Older children love this domino counting game!

three year old activity

Invite your child to feed their hungry caterpillar.

As your child places stickers on the numbers, remind them to return back to one to count up. Prompt thinking with statements and questions such as:

How many pieces of food does the caterpillar have NOW? Let’s count them. Start at one. One, two, three, four…

I wonder if he can eat one more! One more than 5 is? Which number comes after five? Let’s see. One, two, three, four, five, SIX! Six! You’re right!

Although this may sound repetitive, this is exactly what little children need.

Children need to hear your words out loud to help them build a stronger understanding of quantity.

Once ten objects have been placed on the sentence strip, remember to count once again as the caterpillar gobbles it up. Here, we are encouraging imaginary play to encourage counting.

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three year old activity for counting

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