Make A Math Match-Up Tray Game

math match-up tray game

Learning how to count and recognize numbers is a skill that requires a lot of exposure and practice.  First, children learn how to count orally in a sequence (1,2,3,4,5). Then they learn one-to-one correspondence (seeing two crackers in my hand and hearing the word, “two”.  Children make the mental link that number words represent the amount of concrete objects in front of them.  The next step is when the child learns the symbols (numbers) that correspond with the number words (1=one, 2=two).

We spend a lot of time with number learning over the preschool years.  It’s a concept that gets revisited on a weekly basis.  Since we spend lots of time on the concept, and teach it in a variety of mediums, it’s nice to have a basket of pre-made materials to use year after year.


File folders are an easy and inexpensive way to organize math activities. This one has a few envelopes taped to the inside to hold the picture cards. IMG_5271-resized

I use large trays as playing surfaces for my counting activities.  The tray helps to keep the child focused on their work.  The trays are visual boundaries that isolate one child’s activity from a different child sitting nearby.


I will sit with the younger children and set out a few pictures for them to count.  I encourage them to touch each picture card (lawn mower) as they orally count it.  Then they need to find the number six on the right hand side of the tray and match it to the lawn mowers.  They can draw a line with chalk to link up the pictures with the correct number.  The child in the photo below likes to move the number card to sit beside the picture cards.

Once the children get the hang of this counting game they can complete it independently.


You can find free pictures to print online and laminate them to create your own math match-up games.  If you have home daycare providers in the area you could suggest a math match-up exchange.  Sort of like a holiday cookie exchange but with math pictures.  Each caregiver could bring pictures that go with a theme or season or holiday.  Get together one evening and visit while you all cut out your pictures.  Exchange pictures so each person goes home with a set from each caregiver. It’s a great way to have an evening full of laughter and leave with enough math games to last you through the year!

Happy Counting!


  1. Linda Harris says

    I really enjoyed the information on starting my own in home daycare. I am interested in doing that. I live in Shelby ms, and I won’t to start soon as possible. Any information I can receive email me please.