Counting numbers is a fundamental knowledge learned in the primary level. Repetition of numbers and constant exposure to the 100 chart (even up to 120) help a lot. The key, however, is to let the students be “familiar” with the numbers in a way that the numbers can be visualized and not remain as abstract numerals in their minds.
Manipulatives, counters, rods and cubes are the link between this abstract and visual knowledge.
Students can learn numbers first as actual objects that they can feel and manipulate. This activity was done when the students were taught about writing numbers as tens and ones.
First, introduce the number 10 as 10 loose cubes. Then, you can show them 10 ones as 1 ten using a long solid rod (this will later help them model the numbers using quick draw, that is drawing a long straight line to represent 1 ten).
It helps the students count bigger numbers faster in tens instead of starting with 1 whenever a set of objects is presented to them. Later on, this knowledge will be used to reconstruct numbers or break them apart when they start adding and subtracting numbers that will require them to regroup.