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Counting on Toe Math

Infants and toddlers love their hands and feet for good reason. They can put socks on their feet and gloves on their hands. They can step in puddles and paint their toenails green. Best of all they can learn math by counting their toes and fingers. Always loyal and dependable, hands and feet can be counted on. They make excellent conversation starters for a Math Talk with a two-year-old.

1. While looking at your bare feet, describe them. “I see 2 big feet (mine) and 2 little feet (yours). Let’s count to see if each foot has 5 toes. 12345.

2. Name them. Four feet have 20 toes.

3. Ask questions. Which feet are big? Which feet are little? Can I wear your socks? Can we wiggle our toes? Can we put our shoes back on?

4. Take turns talking and listening. Adult remain silent while child takes off shoes until child talks.

Educational researchers also love a toddler’s fingers and toes. Recent research discovered that the amount and complexity of a toddler’s Math Talk is the most important indicator of a child’s future school success.

Our book, The Gift of Words: How Do Children Learn to Talk? supports recent research about how babies and toddlers learn to talk. There are activities supporting parents as they live their important role as their child’s first teacher. See and go to our partner Play Smart Literacy at share literacy games, play videos and make contact with play coaches on Chicago’s South Side.


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