Dot cards are a deck of fun cards with different numbers of dots organized in many ways. Dot cards help children practice important early math skills: reciting number words in the correct order, counting with one-to-one correspondence, cardinality, subitizing, and recognizing written numerals. There are lots of ways to play with dot cards!
- Have children place tokens on top of card dots and count them one-by-one
- Put out 6-10 dot cards and ask children to find two cards that have the same number of dots on them (Match the Dots)
- Hold up a dot card for just a few seconds, hide it, and ask children to say how many dots were on that card (Quick Images)
All of our dot card games help children practice important number concepts. You can download your own set of dot cards and the directions for fun dot cards games using the links below!
WHAT’S THE MATH?
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT SCHOOL
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT HOME
Click on the links below to view, download, and print the directions for individual dot card games!
VIDEO OF A DOT CARD GAME AT HOME
GAME MATERIALS AND DOT CARD PRINTABLES
Note: below we suggest different colors of paper to print each type of dot card on. If you don’t have colored paper, printing on white paper works, too!
ARTICLE ABOUT DOT CARD GAMES
Play Games, Learn Math! Explore Numbers and Counting with Dot Card and Finger Games by Kristen E. Reed and Jessica Mercer Young in Teaching Young Children (October/November 2017, Vol. 11, No. 1)
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: PRESCHOOL MATH LOOK FOR’S
SUGGESTED BOOKS TO READ
Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
This is a classic counting picture book: one black dot makes a sun, 2 black dots make up the eyes of a fox, and three black dots make a snowman. As you read this book with children, count the dots on the page together. This book pairs great with the dot cards games because both help children practice their one-to-one counting and subitizing. You can also use this book to help children see that bigger numbers are composed of smaller numbers. For example, on the book page that shows 6 dots, one hand holds 3 new marbles while the other hand holds 3 old marbles — 3 and 3 make 6!
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Elhert
This counting book is a pleasure to read aloud with beautiful, vivid illustrations. The narrator imagines that she has turned into a fish and will “flip down rivers and splash in the sea.” On each page, children can count the fish from 1 to 10. The narrator also includes simple addition problems on each page such as, “4 striped fish, plus me, makes 5.” Children will enjoy counting the fish and the fish eyes as you read. For an added challenge, try the “plus one” problem on each page. For an additional activity, children can enjoy making their own illustrations of fish to count. To make fish, children can glue together colored bits of paper or use crayons, markers, or paint. Have children narrate their illustration and write down what they say to create your own story!
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
This fun book and song can be used to teach patterns, counting backwards, knowing what number is “one less,” and cardinality. For patterns, point out the words of the song that repeat and see if children know what is changing — there is one less monkey jumping on the bed each time (this is called a shrinking pattern). You can also have children act out the book by having five children pretend to be the monkeys and one person pretend to be the mama. By acting it out, children will see how the number of monkeys (children) decreases by one each time the pattern (verse of the song) repeats.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This popular book is great for comparing numbers and talking about “how many in all” (cardinality). After you read the book, ask children questions such as “How many apples did the caterpillar eat? How many Pears? Plums? Strawberries?” See if children can name the total number eaten without having to recount. Also, notice whether children are subitizing (seeing how many immediately) or counting one-by-one. You can also help children practice comparing numbers by holding the book open to the pages that are cut out for each fruit. Ask, “How many more pears did he eat than apples? How many more oranges than strawberries? How many more oranges than apples?”
How Many Snails?: A counting book by Paul Giganti, Jr., illustrated by Donald Crews
Walking to the meadow, lake, library, park, bakery, toy store, and other stops, the author wonders, “how many?” about a variety of objects organized in different ways. “How many snails were there? How many snails had striped shells? How many snails had striped shells and stuck their heads out?” This is a fun counting book to use as a read aloud and for children to browse on their own.
Quack and Count by Keith Baker
The seven ducklings in this books split into whole number combinations that make seven. First, children count all seven ducks. Then, the ducks slide, hide, chase, splash, and quack in the combinations of 6 + 1; 5 + 2; 4 + 3; 3 + 4; 2 + 5; and 1 + 6. Finally, all seven ducks fly! This book helps children understand that bigger numbers are composed of smaller numbers. This is the same mathematical idea that is practiced in the How Many Are Hiding dot cards game — numbers are composed of parts that together make up a whole.