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How to Teach the "Before and After" Prenumber Concept

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Use toys to teach children about positions

Use toys to teach children about positions

Teaching Before, After and In Between to Kids

Knowing the location of things is important in math. In later math activities, kids will need to answer questions about positions and use their spatial reasoning skills. To prepare them for this, we will begin by learning the prenumber math concepts of "before, after, and in between" using games, play activities and fun interaction.


Lesson Plan for Before and After Prenumber Concepts

Gather up some of your child's favorite toys. You will need 3. Stuffed animals, toy people, cars, or any favorite toy that you can pretend wants to move, works well.

1. Line them up as if they are going somewhere. For animals, set a bowl in front of the first one and tell your child they are all going to the bowl to get a drink. This helps your child understand their positional relationship, by understanding the first one in line will come before the others to get a drink.

Some other ideas for lining up the toys in this step include: Placing them in front of a gate, putting cars in front of a garage, putting people in front of a booth. Ensure your child knows they are lined up to go somewhere.

2. On index cards write the words BEFORE, BETWEEN and AFTER. Label each toy with its position in line.

3. Tell the child the position of the toys using the words before, between and after. Talk to them about who will arrive at the bowl first, and explain that means he comes "before" the other toys. Next, explain who will arrive at the bowl last and explain that this means the toy comes "after" the others. Explain to the child that the one in the middle is "in between."

4. Practice lining up the toys in different patterns, making sure that the toys take different positions in line. This way the child can see that the label "before" does not apply to a specific toy, but rather to the position in line.

5. Occasionally, ask the child what position a toy holds. If they cannot offer the correct answer, simply show them until they are able to answer independently.

Reinforcing Concepts

Use the prenumber concept of before, between and after in daily living situations to reinforce it to your child.

Incorporate the Prenumber Concept Into Daily Activities

1. Line up shopping items at the check-out counter and ask your child which is "before, after or between."

2. Try it with people. Line up several people at the door and ask your child who comes before the others in line.

3. Practice, practice, practice. Counters, chairs, most any toy object can be used to practice. Line them up in different patterns and have your child guess at their position.

3. Print worksheets from the internet and practice before, between and after using these concepts with real numbers. Number line worksheets with missing numbers allow you to ask your child, "What missing number comes after 5?" "What missing number comes before 2?"

4. Keep practicing and don't forget to enjoy your time with the child!

Sing After Me on Sesame Street

More Worksheets for Teaching Before and After

To reinforce the idea of before and after, have children practice with worksheets.

  • Before and After Worksheets from Kids Learning Station

    Follow the directions and circle what comes before the tire, or after the apple. Draw a picture of the shape that comes before or after another shape. Choose a thumbnail below to learn more about these worksheets.

  • Before and After Worksheets from

    Children think about a time of the day, such as breakfast, then they choose things that happen before and after breakfast. Cut and glue the pictures where they belong for this preschool level "before and after" worksheet.

© 2010 hsschulte

Questions or Feedback about Teaching Kids Before, After and Between? - Leave them HERE!

Khushi on August 04, 2020:

Need to clear a doubt on July 06, 2020:

How will you teach "before 'after' and 'between' to KG kids

Jane on July 06, 2020:

I want to learn how to spell and read

TeacherMommy4k on January 06, 2020:

This is very educational. Thanks so much. I Homeschool my kids and I'm always online looking for fun ways to help my kids learn. This is a very good way. Thank you!!

Dipshikha on April 08, 2019:

How we teach before number plz help me

Sandy on October 28, 2018:

My kid has difficulty with before and after but she uses it in her everyray vocabulary. Something so simple and it is hard for a child to fully understand.

Manya on November 23, 2017:

How we teach before numbers??

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on October 05, 2012:

Lol...was busy watching the Sesame Street video. How cute and educational that show really was. Love how you teach the before, after, and in between.

anonymous on July 10, 2012:


Initially i taught my son the before after in-between concept as u said and he was doing pretty well. Suddenly he is blank. He does not know d before after concept n nor is he able to do it with d numbers. I am very worried n losing patience. Pls help.

Thank you