Toddlers: from 18 months to 36 months



Numeracy is about children developing an understanding of how to solve problems, how to reason and how to use logic and mathematical concepts in their everyday environment.

Children will use their bodies, minds and senses to explore their world, including the numbers and mathematics in that world. When they do this, they are able to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes. They then form ideas and test these out. They also learn to refine these ideas as they interact with their peers and adults.

Mathematical concepts develop as children investigate and communicate their ideas about numbers, counting, shape, space and measures.



  • Some 2 year olds may understand the words “one” and “two”, and may be able to follow simple directions related to those numbers.

Tip: Use mathematical language as often as possible when communicating with toddlers. For example: “Nice crayons! Take one!” OR “Pick two pieces of fruit” OR “I would like to give you another toy then you will have two toys.

  • Toward the end of the second year, some two-year-olds may try to recite number words in sequence but as they count higher, they may get the numbers out of order.

Tip: Teach toddlers to count from One and end at Five for now. There is no rush yet to get to higher numbers.


Space and Shape

  • Toddlers continue to learn about sizes and now know the difference between long and short, and, big and small.

Tip: Encourage children to sort out objects according to their size, shape or colour. For example, you might be walking outside and find different coloured leaves on the ground. You can collect a few leaves with your toddler then together separate green leaves from brown leaves, or big leaves from small leaves, etc.

  • During their second year, many children will learn how to stack three or more blocks to make a tower.

Tip: Be sure to repeatedly name the block’s shape correctly as a CUBE (if all sides are exactly the same dimensions, or a CUBOID (if they are not all exactly the same dimension – aka rectangular prism but cuboid is a shorter word). Please do not tell your toddler that these block shapes are squares because they are not. Naming three dimensional shapes accurately is important and much easier to do in a play environment. Other common 3-D shapes found in many homes and in one’s community and school/day care are cones, cylinders, spheres, pyramids and prisms.  Lots of images of 3-D and 2-D shapes can be found on the internet. You can also follow these two links to view them:


Problem solving

  • When asked, many two-year-olds can pick up blocks in the order of size and can distinguish between different toys and activities

Tips: Talk about toys that are grouped together such as building blocks, fluffy toys and let them help you pack them up in different boxes.