Number and Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

number and letter recognition activities | a scavenger hunt to help preschoolers identify numbers in the world around them (rather than just on a worksheet)

My 2 year old has been learning his numbers and letters recently — a bit haphazardly, to be honest, but somehow he’s picking up the idea. Leapfrog’s DVDs Letter Factory and Numberland have been the most helpful instructional tool we’ve used for this. (You can read more about digital resources we’ve used to teach preschool concepts at home in this article.)

A few days ago as I was reading a book to both boys, Lil’ Dude pointed to the page number on the bottom of the page and said, “2!” I was blown away! I didn’t know he knew his numbers that well. I asked him about a few other page numbers, and it was hit and miss with the others, but it got me thinking.

Letters and Numbers IRL (in Real Life)

Kids don’t need to do worksheets to learn a given concept. This may sound a bit counter-culture here, but I’m really beginning to believe that they don’t need workbooks and flashcards to teach them about colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and all sorts of things that occur ubiquitously* in their natural habitat ;). (*all over the place!)

What they do need is lots and lots of conversations.

Education Through Conversation

As I’m studying different philosophies of education and figuring out what feels most comfortable and “right” for our family, the phrase “education through conversation” keeps coming to mind. I don’t know if that’s a real thing or if I made it up, (let me know if it is a thing and I’ll jump on that bandwagon!) but I’m constantly surprised and impressed by all the topics we cover in the course of a day just by talking about things and asking and answering questions.

literacy station at home: 2 year old typing on an unplugged keyboardLil’ Dude has started pointing out more numbers and letters since then. He’ll get really excited about car license plates, pointing out symbols that he recognizes. We use a fake keyboard often to let him practice “typing” and finding letters on the keyboard. He likes to find letters in books we read, and I make a point to show him numbers on clocks and talk about time. (I know the whole Time concept is beyond him still, but at least it’s good exposure to numbers ;).)

At one point, I sat down and looked around our living room and made a mental list of all the places he could “discover” numbers and letters – like the engraved brand name on the internet router, the bar code on the back of a folder, the address on a piece of mail … etc. I thought it would be fun to create a “not-a-worksheet” printable to help encourage kids to actively seek out numbers and letters in the things they see everyday.

Note: I think kids see the world this way anyway; it’s just us old people who forget how amazing it is to be surrounded by recognizable symbols everywhere we look, and the feeling of empowerment when you begin to recognize and understand them. 🙂 

number recognition activities | a scavenger hunt to help preschoolers identify numbers in the world around them (rather than just on a worksheet)

Scavenger Hunt

So I made up a scavenger hunt with a 4 by 4 grid of everyday objects found both in the home and outside. I wanted to create something that would give kids the opportunity to take charge of their own learning a bit and be actively engaged in the learning process. Whether they’re learning a number/letter of the day or just haphazardly picking up knowledge from the world around them (and older siblings!), these number and letter recognition activities will give them a rewarding way to focus in on a certain concept (a given number or letter – but you can re-use this activity endlessly to practice ALL THE THINGS!) and proudly show you their discoveries.

I envision this being used “BINGO” style, where kids try to get a complete row of boxes crossed off, but it could take on a lot of variations. With really young learners, you could point out an item for them and ask them to find a certain number or letter on it. Slightly older kids may be able to work in teams to fill out the entire board, or race to get 4 in a row checked off. They could also keep tally marks of how many (of the designated number/letter) they find on a certain object and add up their marks at the end – the person with the most points would win – or everybody would win because they all participated ;).

letter recognition activities | a scavenger hunt to help preschoolers identify numbers in the world around them (rather than just on a worksheet)

Dollar Deal

I listed this in my TPT (TeachersPayTeachers) store for $1.00 – you can see the full product, more details, (and the link to buy it if you would like ;)) here: If you wanted to use these number and letter recognition activities with your own kids or in a daycare or preschool class, I would recommend printing off the charts once and putting them in plastic page protectors, then letting the kids write on them with dry erase markers so that you could re-use them indefinitely.

I’d love to hear how this works out for you, or if it inspires you to do a similar activity to help encourage your kids to find numbers, letters, shapes, colors, etc. IRL. 🙂

More Math Activities

You can see all of my posts about our math activities and reading/writing activities (with several free printables) on my Math page and Reading and Writing page.

Learning Resources for Teachers, Tutors, and Parents

If you’d like to visit my store to see my library of learning resources (focused on Pre-K – 3rd grade Math, Reading, and Writing, and High School Algebra and Geometry), you can check it out here:

More Resources:

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