Counting, Reading, and Writing Numbers to 1,000

by Laurie Laurendeau on September 26, 2009


Counting numbers is saying the numbers in order.  Children learn to count at a fairly young age.  When children are ready to count to 1,000, they should already understand the concepts of One-To-One Correspondence, and they should have already learned to count to 100.


Reading a number is the ability to see a printed numeral, and call it by name.  At this point, children should realize that a printed number represents a set of things. When reading numbers up to 1,000, it is important that the child has a sense of Place Value, meaning the value of each digit is different depending on the column in which it appears.  For example, in the number “842”, the “2” is worth “2”, the “4” is worth “4 tens, or 40” and the “8” is worth “8 hundreds, or 800”.


Writing a number is the ability to count a set of objects, or hear a number aloud, and write the symbol (the number) down on a piece of paper.  For example, if the child has a set of 125 buttons, she should be able to count those 125 buttons, and print the number “125” to represent the buttons.  Or, someone could say a number aloud, for example “463”, and the child would print the number “463” on a piece of paper.


Watch out for numbers that have zeros in them.  These often give children difficulties.  For example, if you say the number “603”, watch that the child does NOT write “63”.  The “6” and the “3” are the only two numbers that the child heard.  This tells you that she has not had enough experience with Place Value activities.  See the Tips/Activities section below for more ideas on this.


  • Counting to 1,000 can take a while, so you might want to split up the task into a few sessions.  When you get to 100, be sure to point out to the child that it’s like the counting is starting over, only now you are in the hundreds.
  • Reading numbers to 1, 000 requires a knowledge of Place Value.  Give the child some straws, rubber bands, and some string.  Have her sort them into groups of 10, and place a rubber band around the bundle.  When you have 10 groups of 10 straws, tie a string around the big bundle to show 100.  Try to make a few bundles of 100, ten bundles of 10, and be sure to leave 9 loose straws.  You can now choose a few 100’s bundles, a few 10’s bundles, and a few loose straws, and ask your child to tell you what number is represented by the straws.
  • Your child can now write down the number of straws she has on a piece of paper.
  • When your child sees numbers in the environment (ex: a number on a sign at the store), ask her to first read the number to you.  Then ask her how many hundreds, tens and ones it represents.  Ex: If your child sees the number 764, she should say “seven-hundred sixty-four”, and tell you that it has 7 hundreds, 6 tens, and 4 ones.



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