Counting and calculation finger games

Learning to Count and Calculate with Finger Games

Counting and calculation finger games are great for younger children, there are lots of ideas online that you can use to make counting and calculation games to play with children using your fingers. Try to keep the games short and fun! When we are counting backwards from larger numbers, for example, we don’t need to go all the way to zero, just ‘jump in’ at an appropriate place and counting back long enough to check understanding. You can practice most skills with just your fingers! Here are a few suggestions.

Finger sums

How old are you?

Ask a 3-year-old, “How old are you? Are you this age?”
Show them three fingers on one hand.
Then ask, “How old are you? Are you this age?”
Hold up two fingers on one hand and one finger on your other hand. (Children usually answer, “No!”)
Don’t be scared to model counting your fingers. Try this with other ages, too!

Do you know?

Think of objects around the house, in the garden, anywhere your child is familiar with. (Ideally, the answers will be less than ten, to begin with!) This is a great opportunity to get them active, send them off to find out. Ask questions and get your child to show the answer on their fingers, for example:
“How many chairs around the table?”
“How many doors are there in the kitchen?”
“How many drawers are there in the kitchen?”
“How many eggs in an egg box?”
“How many spoons can they find?”

Show me!

You hold up any number of fingers. Ask your child to show you the same
number on their fingers but in a different way.

More or Less!

Hold up any number of fingers on your hands.
Say a number (make sure they can do it on their fingers)
Ask your child to show you the new number on their fingers.
(Begin with 1, so you ask them to show you 1 more or one less!)

Boy counting with fingers
Boy holding up hands

Fingers Fingers

You say, “Hold your hands behind your back.”
Together chant, “Fingers, fingers, 1, 2, 3. How many fingers do you see?”

Using two hands, hold up four fingers (for example).

Children answer, saying four or showing four with their fingers. BIG celebrations when they get it right! Give loving encouragement if they get it wrong, explain how many there are, counting each finger shown.

Repeat the game showing 1–5 on your fingers until your child is confident, then move up to ten. Change how you show each number, for example, show more fingers on your left hand then switch to show more on your right hand.


Morra is a hand game for 2 or more people that dates back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times. Each player simultaneously reveals their hand, extending any number of fingers, and calls out a number. Any player who successfully guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point. This is an extension of ‘Fingers Fingers’ as it can become very fast-paced and competitive!

Morra can be played to make decisions, like what’s for tea, choosing between tv programs, etc. It is fun and like ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors‘ your children will want to play. With Morra, they will help their mental maths too!

Boys playing Morra