Here’s a simple activity for preschoolers that will turn counting practice into a game!  Lately, Owen (4.5) has felt like he is “too big” for counting activities that we used to do, but he actually still needs practice on counting.  I realized that he is much more motivated to count when it involves keeping score, and so I set up this simple game for him.

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Race to Fill the Cup!  Counting Game for Preschoolers

How to Play:  To play this game, you need objects for counting (we used math linking cubes), a cup for each player (pick the size based on age and ability), and a die.  We used a math die with the numbers 1-12 on it.

Each player rolls the die and then adds that many cubes to their cup.  The first one to fill the cup wins!

Variation:  Use two regular dice and have your child add the numbers on the dice and take that many cubes.  Or for young preschoolers, just use one regular die and practice the numbers 1-6.

Variation 2:  Work backwards and empty the cups instead of filling them.  Before you start, have your child guess how many rolls it will take to empty the cups.

Race to Fill the Cup! Counting Game for Preschoolers

This game held Owen’s interest for several rounds, but the amazing part was that it also held his brother’s interest as well (ages 7 and 10)!  They were more than happy to help Owen play this game.

For more preschool counting practice:


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  1. Kinder-Touch Feb 6, 2014

    Awesome! Bookmarked your page for future use. I'd definitely be hanging around sometime since I think your activities is well suited for my son a year or two from now. But I think I can use this for my toddler as early as now, will just try to look for the materials though locally. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Kimberly Hamby Feb 7, 2014

    Love this idea!! I can not wait to try this with my small group next week. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sarah Jo Feb 10, 2014

    I'm a new reader and played this with my boys Friday. They really enjoyed it--and after the bowl was full, they asked if they could build a tower and knock it down. Typical!

    1. Sarah Feb 13, 2014

      LOL, Yes, very typical! :-)

  4. Tommy May 30, 2016

    Nice game

  5. Malory Jul 11, 2016

    I used this activity today with a group of 4 kindergarteners and it worked great! I adapted the activity to include 4 stations of different manipulatives to fill the cup with. Thanks!

  6. Canada University Ranking Apr 19, 2018

    Thanks for any other fantastic article. Where else could anybody get that type of information in such a perfect way of writing?
    I've a presentation next week, and I'm on the search for such information.

  7. Nicole Dec 17, 2018

    I found this idea on Pinterest and have pinned it for my daughter. She is 4 and has an affinity for words/letters but struggles with number recognition a little. I am looking forward to playing this with her!

  8. Elizabeth Howell Jan 24, 2019

    Great game... I took your idea and added a piece for my 1st graders- after they fill their cup, they count by arranging in groups of 10 & ones for place value practice. Thanks!


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