Ordering and Sequencing Numbers Games
Ordering numbers teaches how to count ahead – which helps with addition. When you know the order of numbers so well that you can count backwards, then this helps with subtraction.
Showing every ‘other’ number teaches about odd and even digits. Which numbers are odd and which are even?
Sequencing numbers in patterns of 2s or 3s teaches pattern recognition. It can also teach the 2 or 3 times table.
This activity uses simple soft play balls and cupcake cases to practice these maths skills.
It’s a visual and tactile way for kids to practice ordering and sequencing numbers.
Time: 10 minutes
Age: Little kids to Big kids
Difficulty to make: Easy peasy
Skill: Order and sequence numbers
You will need:
- Plastic balls (play balls or ping pong balls)
- Cupcake cases or muffin tin
- Black Sharpie pen
Make your number balls
Using a black Sharpie write numbers on your plastic balls.
Start with 10 balls and write the numbers 1-10.
Separate odd and even numbers by colour
It helps to use one colour of balls for odd numbers – here it’s yellow.
And another colour of balls for the even numbers – here it’s blue.
Your child can then more easily spot the pattern of odd and even numbers once they’re all laid out in order (see below).
Activity 1: Ordering Numbers Game
Set out 10 silicone bun cases or cupcake cases.
Ask your child to place the numbered balls in the cases in order from 1-10.
You could ask them to say each number as they put them down.
Once your child has ordered the numbers say them again out loud from 1-10.
Extend the Activity: Bat to 10
Some children learn more visually, by seeing numbers laid out in front of them in order.
Others love active games to help consolidate their learning.
If you want to try something different, you can ‘bat to 10’.
- Put your hands together to make a ‘bat’.
- Bat an invisible ball (or a real play ball) to one another.
- Count each time you hit the ball.
So you bat an invisible ball to your child saying ‘1’, they bat it back and shout ‘2’, and so on, until you reach 10.
Keep practising until the number order becomes second nature.
Then you can return to the play balls and place them in order too.
Activity 2: Spot the Missing Number in the Order
Ask your child to close their eyes while you take away one of the numbers.
Your child then has to guess which number is missing from the sequence.
Repeat this a few times, taking away different numbers.
It helps them feel confident in their knowledge of which numbers go after one another.
Extend the Activity: Spot All the Missing Numbers
This time take away 2 or 3 or even 4 numbers from the sequence.
Ask your child to figure out which numbers are missing. Can they put them in the right place?
You can expand this to include numbers up to 20 when your child is ready.
Activity 3: Learn about Odd and Even Numbers
Show your child the numbers laid out from 1-10.
Explain to them that the yellow balls are odd numbers and the blue balls are even numbers.
Even numbers can be shared equally. Odd numbers can’t be shared equally. (See below for an activity idea about how to explain ‘number sharing’.)
Remove the Odd Numbers
Ask your child to take away all the yellow balls which are the odd numbers.
They will be left with a series of blue balls set out in order. Each will have an even number on it.
Point to each even number and say the numbers out loud to reinforce that this selection here are the even numbers.
Repeat the process, this time by removing the even numbers and leaving the odd numbers.
Extended Activity: Explain Number Sharing (Even Numbers)
You could get some items to show your child how some numbers can be shared evenly and others can’t.
Lay out 4 buttons, biscuits or another item and ask your child to share them out between you.
They will see you both get the same amount.
Now ask them to share out 3 buttons. They will notice that you don’t get the same amount.
4 is an even number.
3 is an odd number.
This activity can help them to understand what odd and even numbers are and become familiar with this concept.
You can see further activities for counting and sharing numbers with our Teddy Bear’s Picnic Numeracy Activities.
Activity 4: Spot the Missing Even Number in the Sequence
As your child becomes more comfortable with the idea of odd and even numbers, you will find that they can count in 2s. (Learning the 2 times table just became a whole lot easier).
They can play this game to consolidate their knowledge.
- Put all the even numbers in a row, from the smallest to the biggest.
- Now take one away and ask your child to work out which one is missing.
- Do this a few times, taking away different numbers each time.
This helps your child to feel more comfortable counting in 2s.
Extend the Activity: Spot the Missing Odd Number
Now ask your child to find all the odd numbers and place them in order from the smallest to the largest.
Play the game again, taking away one odd number at a time from the row. Ask your child to figure out which number is missing.
This helps them to establish number patterns and become more familiar with odd numbers.
Activity 6: Create a Challenge with Number Sequences
As your child masters these early maths skills, you can create ever more difficult number sequences.
- Choose your number sequence. In this example you have to place every third number down to complete the sequence.
- Place the balls in order and ask your child to spot the pattern.
- They will have to figure out what the difference is between each of the numbers in the sequence to spot the pattern.
- Now take away one ball and ask your child to work out which number is missing.
Extend the Activity: Find the Number Sequence AND the Missing Number at the Same Time
Set out a number sequence of your choosing as before. Take away one of the balls before you show your child the number sequence.
They now have to spot the sequence using fewer numbers, and find the missing number in the sequence as well.
These ordering and sequencing numbers games take no time at all to set up and can be a fun way to practice first maths skills.
Adjust the games to whatever your child feels comfortable doing and then introduce new challenges.
You could even get them to set up their number sequences for you to figure out too!