This activity is an expanded version of the one seen on the video above.
You and your child use numbers and counting every day to find out “how many” there are in a set of things. In this activity, you will help your child practice counting by playing a modified version of the traditional Mexican bingo game called lotería.
- Lotería board (download easy and hard versions here)
- Number cards one-10
- Dried beans, buttons, pebbles or other small items (if your child is likely to put small items in their mouth or has difficulty grasping small items, you can use a crayon to mark the board instead)
1. Get ready to play Number Lotería! This game is for two or more players. Each player receives their own lotería board and 10 small items to use as tokens, such as dried beans, pebbles or buttons, on the board.
2. It’s time to play! Pick one player to be the announcer. The announcer draws a number card and says the number aloud.
3. The lotería boards have 10 images each with a set of objects that represent a number from one-10. Ask your child to find the set of objects on their board that represents the number that was drawn.
For example, you might say: “I drew the number three — see the three on the card?” Show your hand to your child and use your fingers to count one-two-three. “There’s a picture on your board that shows three objects. Can you find it?”
TIP: If your child can’t find the picture, give them a clue: “How many chickens are there?” If your child needs help counting, use your fingers to point and count the chickens one by one together.
4. Practice counting with your child, repeating the last number to show how many there are.
For example, say “One, two, three. There are three chickens.”
TIP: As you say the number three, gently raise your voice to say it in a higher pitch. This will help your child learn to recognize that last number as the total number.
5. After your child has found the image that matches the number, all players must mark the image that represents that number with a token.
TIP: Your child may not want to give up a token to put on the board. If that happens, you can suggest that your child keep one “special” token in their hand while they use another token to mark the number called on their board.
6. After each token is placed, ask your child to count how many tokens are on the board.
For example, you might say “How many tokens are on your board?”
TIP: Encourage your child to point to each token as they count — but not pick it up. If your child needs help counting, use your fingers to point at and count the tokens one-by-one together.
7. Keep going until each image on the board is covered with a token. Players win the game by filling the lotería board and shouting “Lotería!”
Take It Further
Count higher than 10: Go on a nature walk. Ask your child to collect items such as pebbles, leaves or sticks to take home. Collect at least 20 items. At home, arrange the items your child collected on the nature walk in a row. Ask your child, “How many are there?” Then, ask your child to use their finger to mark which item they are counting. Optionally, use masking tape and a marker to label the items. After labeling one item, ask your child what number comes next.
- “Ten Black Dots” by Donald Crews
In this picture book, children practice counting numbers with rhymes and everyday objects.
This activity is part of our Number Sense and Counting workshop, which helps parents and caregivers playfully build children's ability to count.