Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1 to 10 for Tuesday: Number Identification, Values & Counting

I once heard a seasoned Early Childhood Educator talk about parents thinking their children "know" their letters or numbers because they can recite them (reciting them well and quickly). She shared that often when she would ask that same child to identify a letter or number, they could not or could only identify some, but not all. 

With that in mind, I wanted to do a game with my Wild Thing (toddler) that would reinforce not only counting, but would also incorporate number identification with counting and would demonstrate the value of numbers (i.e. demonstrating what 3 actually means). 

I set out 10 mostly clear and mostly glass containers from smallest to largest. The sizing of the containers was designed to help Wild Thing (he's 2 1/2) begin to understand number values - smaller number, smaller jar.

I labelled each container with its corresponding number, both with the number symbol and with the number spelled out. I would write the number and match it with its container, then Wild Thing would count the corresponding number of raisins and put them in each jar/container (also good for fine motor skills).

He liked looking in each container --I encouraged this to underscore what 6 looks like.
To reinforce counting and number values, we did the same thing again, only this time we added liquid to each container, adding the corresponding correct number of teaspoons of our dyed liquid. As we did this, we looked at the numbers on the paper and counted out each teaspoon added. Then, I would encourage him to look at the containers and notice what 3 looked like in comparison to 2, and so on. I also talked about which numbers and containers were bigger and which were smaller.

I often asked him to find a certain number for me. The major bonus came with clean up time, which he turned into a game deciding it was really fun to get to pick a numbered paper to give to me for clean up -- proudly announcing the number he chose. 

I like this activity a lot because we can build on it as he gets older and gains increased knowledge of numerical concepts. We can keep it fresh by coming up with different items to count into the containers and can explore different measurements. These types of containers could work for elementary school aged children learning about greater than and less than. (When I ran an after-school program, I noticed that greater than/less than presented a challenge for some students, and I think having the corresponding visual would really help).

Finally, inspired by Marnie at Carrots Are Orange and her Early Financial Literacy Series, I realized sized containers would be great for exploring coins and money value. Here's the basic concept, though I haven't had time yet for a full activity with Wild Thing.

Larger coin and dollar values would go in larger containers with the containers laid out in the appropriate order. What would be interesting is for kids to sort their coins and dollars and see when the order of the containers would need to change. For example, if they have 6 pennies, the penny container would move to the right of the container holding only 1 nickel because the 6 pennies would now be worth more than that single nickel. 

BOOK UPDATE - Recently got this book at the library and it pairs really well with the value/counting/number identification exercise, especially since the end of the book also really shows the difference between 1 and 5, for example. Plus, my toddler really loves the book - simple can be quite good. 

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  1. a very unique activity... i don't know that i've seen this one before. i like how you incorporated size in with number value! thanks for linking up to tip-toe thru tuesday.

  2. I LOVE this idea and counting the teaspoons of water!

  3. A great way to introduce numbers - i like the idea of using larger bowls to show increasing value.

    Thanks for sharing on Family Frolics.

  4. This is fantastic! I love the size of the jars increasing as the numbers increase. This post is so spot on. My three year old could "count" to five just before he turned one, no exaggeration. Of course he wasn't actually counting. He was repeating what he heard his brother say.

  5. We did this one a while ago with plastic containers: http://healthymamainfo.com/2012/03/learn-count-numbers-montessori/

  6. Great idea - you're so right that children can learn to say the numbers without having any physical sense of what they mean.

    We have a special focus this week on maths and number posts at the Empty Your Archive link party, and I would absolutely love for you to link this up, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x