18 - 48 Months+

Stairway math

Young child sitting on stairs that are numbered

Need to burn some energy and do a little basic math at the same time? This activity gets the wiggles out while giving your child practice counting and identifying numbers. If you don’t have stairs, you can approximate the activity by doing it on a floor or other flat surface.


  • Write the numbers 1-10 on pieces of paper, and place them on the risers of a staircase (fun fact: “risers” are the vertical parts you can see when you face the stairs, and “treads” are the parts you step on đź’«). Put the papers in numerical order, with the bottom stair at 1 and then counting up to 10—or as high as your staircase goes. You can add dots or other symbols on the papers to represent the number visually.
  • Give your child a handful of bean bags (balled up socks or crumpled up papers work in a pinch!).
  • Let your child throw the bean bags or socks at the stairs—encourage a gentle underhanded toss. When they land, see if your child can call out the number the bean bags reached. Ask them to walk slowly up the stairs, counting each one as they go—this helps confirm what number they reached and is great one-to-one correspondence practice.
  • You can do this without bean bags at all—ask your child to climb (for example) to the 3rd step, and tell you the number. Then ask them to climb up one more step, and tell you the new number. This is addition! You can tell them that they’ve just demonstrated “3+1=4.”
  • You can have fun with this project in a variety of ways; you can rearrange the numbers in descending order, arrange them randomly, or replace them with letters. Take your child’s name, and place the letters on the stairs, and have them spell their name by stepping to the letters in the correct order. Try this with any words they know!
  • Another extension is to give your child small toys and other little objects, and ask them to place the correct amount of them on each step: one object on the first step, two on the second, and so on.


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Posted in: 18 - 48 Months+, Playtime and Activities, Playtime & Activities

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