"High-quality learning is often incidental and informal but not unplanned or unsystematic."
We loved this quote when we stumbled upon it. In our opinion, it speaks to what early education is all about. We believe that there should be an explicit scope and sequence to how and when we teach concepts to children. However, the presentation and/or delivery of the concepts should be informal and flexible. Rigid rarely works when teaching young children.
Basic math and number concepts, utilized in a preschool or kindergarten classroom, set the foundation for learning more advanced math concepts. Early exposure to math and number activities will promote your child’s comfort with these skills. As early exposure to letters and sight words help children feel confident that they are “readers”, early writing opportunities give children confidence that they are “writers”; and exposure to math skills help children feel like they are "mathematicians".
We think numbers and counting are some of the easiest concepts to imbed naturally into almost any activity. Whether you are using our yearlong curriculum or not, we wanted to show you simple ways to integrate counting into your classroom or daily routine.
- Literacy stories have words and sentences. Encourage your child to count the letters in a word, the number of words in a sentence, or the number of sentences in the story.
- After completing a concept sort, encourage your child to count the objects in each pile. Ask questions such as, "Which pile of objects has more? Which has less?"
- When practicing syllables, ask your child to count the number of syllables in a word.
- With any of the activities in our yearlong curriculum, discuss and count the objects, letters, and sight words before you complete the activity.
- When reading books, encourage your child to point out how many objects they see on a specific page.
- When playing card games, encourage your child periodically to count how many cards they are holding.
- When discussing the days of the week, ask your child how many days remain before the weekend.
- When you play Word Bird, encourage your child to count the number of words or letters they found.
Before completing any of the listening activities in the curriculum, have your child review the letters and count the number of objects.
- Creating clapping patterns allows for children to hear rhythm and rhyme. Clap a sequence; encourage your child to repeat the sequence; afterward, ask your child how many times they clapped.
- We have simple animal faces in our Game Packs. We use these to start introducing counting and simple addition problems. You can make up story problems such as, “There are five (5) pigs and three (3) cows at the farm. How many animals are at the farm?” Yes--you will be introducing your child to word problems!
- Give your child a pile of bears, blocks - any type of manipulative. Say a simple statement such as, “Can you find five (5) red bears?” You can make it a little more complex by saying, “Can you grab five (5) red, three (3) blue, and two (2) green bears?” Once your child has found all the bears, ask them, "How many bears are there?" Our new Bear Bundle has task cards that encourage this strategy.
You can add numerous gross motor counting experiences throughout the day. Here are some simple classroom ideas:
- Lay out cards (sight words, letters, shapes – to name a few). Ask your child to find a word and jump to represent how many letters are in the word.
- When you walk out to get the mail, ask your child to count how many steps they take.
- Add simple task cards on index cards. You can write commands such as: jump six (6) times, crawl five (5) times, clap ten (10) times, blink your eyes eight (8) times.
- Give your child a muffin tin, pompons and a clothespin. Write numbers on the bottom of each muffin and encourage your child to grab pompons with the clothespin and place them in the tins. To order our complete Muffin Package, visit our website www.thereadingcorner.org.
- Give your child Play-Doh. Set the timer for two (2) minutes. Play a game so that your child makes as many small balls as they can in the two (2) minutes. Once the two (2) minutes are up, encourage your child to count the number of balls they made. You can play this a few times, and graph their results. We know children love to race! You may end up playing too!
- Give your child pipe cleaners and beads. Give your child number cards. Have your child pick a card; read the word; and string that amount of beads onto the pipe cleaner.
- Give your child a piece of paper (or use the number mat in the curriculum) that has been folded and numbers written on the inside of each square. Give your child a Q-Tip and paint, finger paint, or stamps. Your child can stamp the amount.
- Many children love to line things up. If your child lines up cars, for example, encourage your child to count how many cars they have lined up.
- Stacking blocks lends itself to easy conversations about counting, comparing and simple addition. You can build a tower alongside your child. Discuss which tower has more or less blocks. Add some simple addition practice by asking questions such as, “If we add two (2) more, how many blocks will we have in all?”. You also can talk about positional words by saying, "What block is on top of the blue block?"
- Music and poetry are great ways to introduce counting skills. Reciting simple poems and adding finger puppets or props is a great tool to encourage number counting and one-to-one correspondence. Poems such as Five Green and Speckled Frogs, Five Little Ducks, and Five Little Monkeys provide an opportunity for children to engage in sing-alongs. Adding props helps children practice one-to-one correspondence, and studies show that music reinforces math skills.
Check out our Number Poem package on our Teachers Pay Teachers site, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Reading-Corner.
- There are many math activities imbedded in the yearlong curriculum. Make it a point to count the objects.
- Once you have completed the graph, encourage your child to count how many of each objects there were. Discuss which had more and which had less.
- In the Shape Sort activities, ask your child how many of each shape they found. You may incorporate more/less questions with this activity.
- The number mats are great to be used with any manipulative. While the curriculum uses snap cubes, you can use bears, beads, blocks, pompons or even crayons, markers and paint. Use whatever your child loves to use. We want children to love learning and use what will get them engaged, excited, and ready to learn.
When children learn to count, they count by rote memorization. Meaning – they are counting 1-10 by memory: not because they know there is one (1) and then two (2) objects. They don’t quite understand that the number five (5) should have more objects than the number three (3). So when we demonstrate counting in our daily life, and encourage it throughout activities; we are aiding in that vital understanding of counting. Instead of needing to teach this concept explicitly, your child should be constantly exposed to counting until it becomes second nature.
Manipulatives give children those tangible representations of the numbers that help with their understanding. Even in primary grades, it is encouraged to give your child manipulatives of any kind when counting or beginning to add. Something as simple as small pieces of paper can be used as manipulatives!
Counting is the building block for math skills, and all of these counting activities prepare a child's brain for more advanced problem solving: a skill that will help them in the classroom and throughout the rest of their lives.