String-Along Numbers


This cards-on-a-clothesline activity is a low-tech, high-touch activity for math beginners. Who’s ready to count and crunch some numbers?


1. What do numbers do? They tell you how many. If you count in order, each number is one more than the one before it. Each number is also one less than the next number. When you write down the numerals and draw some pictures on cards, you get to know better how numbers work.

2. How high can you count? Count out that many large index cards. You may want to start with 20 or fewer cards, then add more later. Write one numeral on each index card with Crayola® Gel Markers. Ask for help if you need it.

3. On each card, draw the number of objects the numeral stands for. You might make one circle, two triangles, and three squares, and so on. Remember zero stands for no objects, which is a good place to start counting.

4. Tape a long yarn or laundry line to a wall, white board, or another safe place. With clothespins or other clips, attach the cards to the line in counting order. Count along your number line.

5. Now rearrange the numbers from highest to lowest. Or pick out even numbers, or odd numbers, and put them in order. Count by twos. Count forward and backward. How many other ways can you find to arrange your String-Along Numbers?

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

String-Like Materials—Includes string, raffia, lacing, yarn, ribbon, and other similar material. Children 3 years and younger should not be given any string-like material that is longer than 12 inches. Close adult supervision is essential whenever children use string-like material. When crafts are to be worn around the necks of children 8 years and younger, attach the ends of the “string-like material” with clear adhesive tape, which allows easy release of the bond if the craft becomes entangled or caught on equipment. For children older than 8 years, the ends of the “string-like material” may be tied and knotted.


  • Make cards with math symbols, such as greater than, less than, equal, plus, and minus. Use the line to solve simple problems.
  • Older students can learn about cultures that have no special number words. For example, the Vedda of Sri Lanka used words such as a single, a couple, another one, and many instead of using numbers. How would you use those words to count without numbers?
  • Learn about counting systems where different parts of the body stand for different numbers.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Gel Markers
household supplies
  • yarn
  • index cards
  • masking tape
  • clothespins



  • Pre-K and Kindergarten
  • Grades 1 to 3


  • Math
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students write numerals on index cards.

  • Students illustrate the value of each numeral.

  • Students line up their cards in numerical order and count in ascending and descending order.

  • Students use their cards to create other math challenges for themselves.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards