How to make counting fun? Got me. I can tell you how to make it boring, though: Flash cards every day. My kids hate flash cards. I hate flash cards. Flash cards are not fun.
Today I tried a different tactic: I pulled out the toy abacus, which features fruit-shaped beads in fun colors, and we took turns counting the rows. After we counted all the rows left to right, I counted for him right to left, alternating counting forward and backward, all while introducing errors to see if he’d catch them.
He has all but 7 and 10 down; it’s 1 2 3 4 5 6 11 8 9 16. Doesn’t matter which direction you count. Seven and ten are nowhere to be found.
I decided to test a theory. From the time I was a kid, I would get the counting song from Sesame Street stuck in my head at random moments: One two three FOUR five six SEVEN eight NINE ten ELEVEN TWELVE. To this day, I hear it when I count, and have to keep counting to 12 or I feel weird. I’ve sung it to both of my kids since they were babies. Anya doesn’t seem to retain musical cues, but Kai does. So I sang it while counting the next row of beads — except I stopped at 10, though it killed me to do so, because there are only 10 beads.
After a beat, he finished for us: “Eleven twelbe.”
Yes! Time to introduce a silly song.
One little, two little, three little nanas.
Four little, five little, six little, nanas.
Seven little, eight little, nine little nanas.
Ten little rotten nanas.
(This is not as random as it sounds. I spent the weekend trying to get the kids to finish the increasingly overripe bananas before they went moldy. I detest the smell of bananas — overripe ones doubly so.)
“Not rotten!” he said. “Those nanas are good!” So I knew I had his attention.
Later on, I heard him singing: “One little, two little, three little crackers…” So the cue stuck. Now to see if it helps.