April 18, 2012


Differentiating between numbers and letters is a great skill to develop in preschool. Here are some activities I do with my students.

Initially I work with the whole group with flash cards. I show a number or a letter and ask the children to tell me which one it is. If it is a number they will jump or clap the number, if it is a letter they will tell me something that start with that letter sound and act it out if appropriate.

On a different day I use the white board. I bluetack two circles (or draw) on the board, one for numbers and one for letters. Then I write a letter or a number outside the circles and the students tell me where to write it.

Then I erase it and write it in the correct circle. I do as many letters and numbers as I judge appropriate. This is also a good formative assessment tool.

As an individual activity I give each student a paper with two ‘cans’ drawn on it, one for numbers and one for letters. I also give them a strip of paper with numbers and letters mixed so they need to cut and paste in the correct can. You can also ask the students to find numbers and letters in old magazines.
Students were instructed to cut all letters and numbers before pasting them. They had a little container to place the bits of paper. I believe we need to teach students how to organize their work.
All students got one number or letter randomly from their little container to glue on the paper but this student in particular made a point of looking for all the numbers and glue them first and then he glued the letters.

The work below is from a student who glued all the numbers in order. She separated the numbers from the letters first then she got the smallest number, pasted it on the paper and added the others subsequently. 

Again it is fascinating for me to observe how each child carry on with the task. 

 Click on the picture below to download the worksheet.

If you are not using magazines like me assessment is the key to know which letters and numbers we give the students for this activity. After assessing my students I chose numbers 6, 9 the letter b, as well as the number 5 and the letter s. You need to assess the students to choose the right challenge for them. Every student at every level needs to be challenged but the task cannot be too difficult or it will be overwhelming.  I was happy to verify that my assessment was accurate and the students were up for the task.

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