Numbers are Literacy Too!

Mother and daughter in kitchen making a salad smiling

Numbers are everywhere. They can be the first and last thing we see every day. From clocks and phones to money and preparing meals—they are a part of our everyday lives.  Yet a lot of adults lack confidence in teaching their children numeracy skills.

We talk about the importance of reading and writing all the time, but not about numeracy. In fact, when we hear the term literacy, most adults think of reading and writing, though literacy is so much more. Literacy is a part of everything we do—from answering a text, to driving, to going to the grocery store—it surrounds us from the moment we wake to the moment we go to sleep.

So why are we so afraid to talk about numbers? Teaching children about numeracy doesn’t have to be scary. You can start talking about numeracy with babies. Scaffolding language—adding descriptive words when naming objects, is a great way to bring numeracy to your children. Colours, shapes, and amounts are all early numeracy vocabulary. Whether you are talking about the round red ball or the striped socks, the two green triangles or the three orange cats—you are teaching your children about numeracy. You are creating the foundation for matching, sorting, and grouping—numeracy skills we use throughout our daily lives.

Almost any activity you do with your children can incorporate numeracy. We often forget that our day-to-day activities are filled with great opportunities to include our children and show them what we are doing. In this way, we are teaching them the skills they will need throughout their lives to solve problems and become quick thinkers.

2 Easy Ways to Include Numeracy in Your Day:

  1. Include your children in preparing meals—cooking and baking are filled with opportunities to teach numeracy. Ask them how many plates or spoons you need for everyone, talk about the amounts of each ingredient needed, and get your children to help adding them and mixing. Cooking is also helpful in teaching about sequencing, following directions, and problem solving. For example, if you skip a step in the directions, what will happen? How do we fix it? Can we fix it?
  2. When reading books, try asking your children about the pictures; for example, can they find the red balloon? How many puppies are there on the page? Talking about the pictures and what is happening in the story will also help children comprehend the story better—remembering more of the details and what the story was actually about.

For more ideas on engaging activities that are numeracy based, you can visit our 3,2,1,Fun! program this winter, or try our Flit app, available on both Google Play and the App Store.

For more information and the schedule for 3,2,1,Fun!, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website:

Click here to download the free iOS version of the Flit app.

Click here to download the free Android version.

Watch the app demo:  

7 Crazy Fun Family Games to Play Over the Holidays

Have you ever watched Minute to Win It types of games and thought it would be fun to play them with your family? Family games are a great way to bring everyone together over the holidays, or any time, to have a little fun! The games can be simple or complex, depending on the participants, and you can often use things you have around the house. Try to encourage all family members to play, no matter their age. Games are also a fun way to incorporate family literacy into your holiday activities by talking, following directions, counting, etc.
The Games:
Try to split everyone who would like to participate into two teams, trying to keep both sides as even as possible. The great thing about these games is that they only last for one minute, so participants only have to make it through 60 seconds.
img_2933-11. This first game involves stacking cups so they look like a tree. Remember you only have 60 seconds. To make this activity more difficult for adults, have them put one arm behind their back and use their non-dominant hand.






img_2936-22. This game requires mini marshmallows, straws, and cups (or other containers). Using the straw, you must get as many marshmallows into the cup as you can in one minute. To make this game harder for adults or older kids, do not allow them to hold the straw with their hands.






3. Our next game requires two pairs of pantyhose with the toes cut out and a hole for your face, as you will be making antlers on your head. This game takes great team effort as balloons are stuffed into the pantyhose legs. An option can be that the winner is whoever finishes first, instead of having a one minute time limit.




img_2955-94. This game is about making a Christmas Tree. We used long ribbon, however you could use toilet paper and make a snowman, or wrapping paper to wrap a present (the entire person). Once again you could time the teams or just judge them after the first one is done.






5. Starting to get hungry after all this work? How about a cookie challenge? Place a cookie over one eye and try to get it into your mouth. For the younger kids, if the cookie falls off they could pick it up and try again. For adults and older kids, I suggest no hands and if they fail then another player from their team has to try until at least one person is successful.


6. On to some full body movements you will need two more pairs of pantyhose without holes, two tennis balls (or heavy balls) and some targets to knock over. Putting the nylons on your head with the ball in each leg, try knocking down as many of the targets as you can. We used paper cups but water bottles or pop cans work too.


img_2969-87. Lastly we have the candy cane pick up. Stack up a bunch of candy canes, and putting one in your mouth, hook as many candy canes as you can and transfer them into a cup. For little fingers, just let them use their hands instead of putting the candy cane in their mouth.




These are just a few of the hundreds of games available on the internet, so grab your family and friends, be creative, and have a great time!
Find more game ideas, as I did, with these sites:


Strong Books Are Up For Anything!

Board books make it safe for your child to explore on their own, as well as with you!


Choose board books for your baby or toddler to explore. Look for a book where the pages flip up on their own when you open it.


You can leave board books out for your child to play with and explore, as well as sharing these books together by reading the words or talking about the pictures.

Young children use all their senses to explore new things, so don’t be worried if they chew on the books or are rough with them—board books are made for this.


Your child isn’t born knowing how to use a book. They need to be able to explore and play with books to figure out what they actually are and how to hold them and turn pages.

Good quality board books can stand up to whatever your small child will do to them, even if they are being rough.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your child to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Let’s Read it Again… And Again… And Again…

There’s a reason your child keeps choosing the same book to read. Stick with it, even if you’re tired of it!


Let your child choose the books they want to read, even if it’s the same one over and over again.


Share the book with your child by reading the words or talking about the pictures, even if you’re getting tired of it. They are choosing it for a reason, and it’s helping them become a reader. Follow your child’s lead, and also look for different things you can talk about in the book.


Your child may choose the same book over and over again because they remember parts of it, which makes them feel as though they are reading. Often, your child will see something different each time you share a book because their view of the world around them changes as they learn more. This makes it interesting for them each time!

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Simple Ways to Entertain your Baby with a Book

When I talk about which books are age appropriate for babies, I am less concerned about what is in the book and more interested in what we can do with the book. A great example of this is books that require our imagination to make sense of what the pictures are telling us, which is not something babies are very good at.

That doesn’t mean these types of books are inappropriate for babies. Monkey & MeFor example, Emily Gravett’s Monkey and Me depicts a young girl acting out the motions that we associate with different zoo animals. Even if your baby is very familiar with elephants, a picture of a girl hunched over with her arm stretched out in front of her face is probably not going to make your baby think of elephants. Even with pictures of the girl in mulitple poses, your baby will not know that one pose is meant to transition into the other. However, if you make those motions yourself, and you make your best elephant trumpet noises, and you flap your hands beside your head like big ears… well, your baby still might not be thinking of elephants and that’s okay, you’ve just transformed a confusing picture into a fun and engaging interaction.

Pete's a PizzaI think William Steig’s Pete’s a Pizza can work beautifully for this. Of course your baby won’t understand from the story how Pete’s parents pretending to make him into a pizza can cheer him up when he’s feeling down. The connection between managing emotions and imaginary food preparation are more than a little abstract. But if you gently massage your baby, roll them back and forth like dough, and tickle them as you make your way through the book, it will probably become a favourite nonetheless.

This won’t work with every book, but when you notice the book you are sharing lends itself to different actions, take the cue to bring the book to life, and see how your baby likes it.

For information about the Books for Babies program, or to find the Edmonton program schedule, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website program page. For more information about sharing books with your baby, your toddler, or your preschool aged children, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website resources page.  

Mmmmm… Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Measuring, mixing, baking and talking—numeracy and literacy ideas rolled into a fun, regular activity with yummy results!



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 package chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars in a large bowl with a hand mixer.
  3. Add all other ingredients except chocolate chips and mix with the hand mixer.
  4. Once everything is mixed well, add the chocolate chips and mix them in.
  5. Make small balls of cookie dough and set them on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake in centre of oven for 8 minutes.
  7. Take out and let cool.


Let your child help you measure and mix the ingredients. Show them the recipe and talk about how you know how much you need of each ingredient.

With your child, take pieces of the dough and roll them between your hands to make small balls. Talk about how they need to be the same size so they all cook the same.

You could even try making different sizes to see what happens to them.


Cooking together gives you a chance to have some great conversations with your child. There will be new words, ideas, and fun along the way while you make something together. By including your child in your cooking, you will also make them feel like they are helping you get things done. 

Laundry Toss

We all have to do laundry, so why not get your child involved with the sorting and matching—both early numeracy ideas!


Make doing laundry a fun thing for your child to help with.


When it’s time to do laundry, give your child a job. Depending on their age, they can:

  • count how many there are of different pieces of clothing
  • put the same colours together
  • find all the socks after you unload the dryer
  • roll the clean socks into a ball and see if they can throw them into the basket


Counting, sorting, matching, and colours are all part of early math (numeracy). These ideas can be worked into everyday routines to help you get things done and let your child feel like they are helping, while supporting learning in a fun way!


To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Play Dough Snake Letters

Have fun rolling out play dough into long snakes with your child, then see what you can make them into together – letters, numbers, shapes, and more!


Use play dough to make letters, numbers, shapes, or words.


Together, roll out pieces of play dough into long snakes. Bend the snakes, or connect them, to make letters, words, shapes, or numbers. Spell out your child’s name using your snakes and let them copy it if they want to.


Writing can happen in many different ways. By using something like play dough, your child can physically move and change pieces, which can help them remember the shapes of letters more easily. It’s also a fun way to do writing together.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Learning Styles

Ask yourself what comes to mind when you hear the word dog. Some people see a picture of the animal, others might hear a bark, while others sense the texture of the dog’s fur.

If you saw a picture of the dog, or saw the letters of the word, you are probably a visual learner. If you heard the dog bark, then your learning style would be auditory, and if you felt the soft fur of the dog, then your style is kinesthetic.

Visual learners would rather see a demonstration or read instructions. They call up images from the past when trying to remember, and they picture the way things look in their heads.

Auditory learners tend to spell phonetically. They can sometimes have trouble reading because they don’t visualize well. Instead, they learn by listening, talking, singing, or other activities using their hearing sense.

Kinesthetic learners learn best through movement and manipulation. They like to find out how things work, so participating in a demonstration rather than watching it helps them learn.

Most preschool children learn best through experience; therefore, they would be considered kinesthetic learners. Though people can use different learning styles, as we grow older we are pulled toward one preferred mode of learning. This is the mode we resort to when we are under stress or learning new information that is difficult to understand.

It is not unusual for parents to prefer a different style of learning from that of their child. By having a better understanding of each style, a parent has a better chance of helping their child learn with less frustration.

Experiment with different learning styles:

  • If your child is primarily a visual learner, then use diagrams, maps, graphs, and the Internet.
  • Memorizing a jingle, singing songs, and reading aloud are all activities that will support auditory learners.
  • Kinesthetic learners might better remember by manipulating letter blocks, creating a crossword puzzle, or doing math while bouncing on a trampoline. 

Trying different methods of learning may prevent your child from feeling frustrated and can improve their feeling of accomplishment.



Making Playdough

Making and playing with playdough together is fun and can lead to many conversations and creative moments!


What you need: 

  • 1 c salt
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1 c cold water
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 tbsp. corn starch
  • food colouring

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix together salt, water, oil, and food colouring (enough to make a bright colour).
  2. Add flour and corn starch.
  3. Knead the dough with your hands. Gradually add more flour if it’s too sticky, or oil if it isn’t sticking together.
  4. Store in a sealed bag in the fridge for up to 2 months.



Let your child help you measure and mix the ingredients. Show them the recipe and talk about how you know how much you need.

Use the playdough to make whatever you want—maybe letters, shapes, or something from a favourite book or song.

Talk about what you are doing and ask your child what they are making.



Reading recipes is something that often happens in a home and not always just for cooking! Letting your child get involved will help them see how reading is used differently. Doing it together and using the end product is a great reward!

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.