Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preschool Math – an activity for counting and recognizing higher numbers


counting with pennies
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our current plan for math just hasn’t been working, so I’ve been busy making some activities to encourage counting and recognition of higher numbers.  Movement seems to be a big factor with M when it comes to learning something.  He’s quick to learn if he can engage his entire body and have fun

{Not to digress too much, but this is one of the reasons I worry about him being in a traditional school setting.  He really needs one on one time and someone with the patience and flexibility to adapt activities to his learning style, which is very much whole-body kinesthetic.  I’m not sure anyone loves him enough to provide this for him except his parents, or that it’s even practical to expect a teacher in a traditional setting to be willing to do this for all of his/her students.  Of course I assume as he matures he’ll be able to learn in other ways also, but until then I want what is best suited for him as he is.} 

I was given these Fisher Price cardboard flash cards when M was a baby (ours are similar to the ones linked to, but an older version).  I’m not really into using flashcards for memorization, but these are so cute I kept them, thinking that we’d find some way to use them. 

The numbers are 0 to 25 in the set, but we used only 0 to 15 this time.   I used a Sharpie to print the numbers 0 to 15 on the inside of bottle lids I’ve had in my “stash” for a long time.   (These were peanut butter jar lids for 10 to 15, and Gatorade bottle lids for 0 to 9.)

We lined up the cards, face up, from 0 to 15, with me (and often M) saying the number and pointing to the number on the card.  Next, he matched up each lid with the appropriate card.counting pennies into lidsThen, the real fun began – as we went down the line, beginning at zero, we turned over each card to see that particular number of objects (4 cows, 5 sheep, etc.) and he counted pennies into each lid (except for zero of course!).  3 tractors, 3 penniesWhen he got to the higher numbers he placed the pennies directly onto the objects on the card, using one-to-one correspondence to make sure he counted correctly.counting pennies onto the cardsHe was very proud of himself when he finished, and I was pretty proud too. :) 

The total body movement, going down the line as we worked, was what really kept him involved in this.  And since 0 to 10 were very easy for him, he felt successful and this encouraged him to go on.  Oh, that and the fact that when he got to 13 and wanted to quit, I said he could keep all the pennies for his bank if he finished. ;) 

By the way, it takes 55 manipulatives to count from 1 to 10, 120 manipulatives to count from 1 to 15, and 210 manipulatives to count from 1 to 20 with an activity like this.  Good to know, right? ;)  Beans, beads, cheerios, small rocks, and pennies all make good counters for higher numbers!

Have a beautiful day! :)



  1. What a wonderful counting activity! Sammy is very much the same way with his learning. I love this activity to engage in counting. Love that he got to keep the pennies for a little extra incentive :-)

  2. It's wonderful that you an adapt to his needs. We feel the same with our daughter. She's a visual learner and better at conceptual knowledge over rote memorization. She responds best to discovery learning and child-directed learning which is another reason why we homeschool. I think most kids can benefit from hands-on learning like the kind of activities you provide.

    Good to know how many manipulatives are needed! Thanks for linking!

  3. What a fun activity! For everything I've read about boys - and experienced myself - it seems like using movement is key. (Although sometimes it's a bit too much "movement" in my house, ha!) I might have to try this, or, if my oldest is too young, make a habit of reading your posts from a year back a year from now. How lucky I am that your son is older than mine and you can light the way for me! :)

  4. What a wonderful idea! You are so right in tailoring your teaching style to meet M's learning style! Bravo, mama! I just blogged about this recently.

  5. What a great activity. I love how you pay such close attention to how your son learns best :)

  6. Love the activity. You always come up with great stuff to keep M interested. We have the same problem with the need for motion in Crumpet... His preschool teacher had a masters in teaching kids with different learning techniques (I'm blanking on the proper word), and she had many centers set up with different activities so that everyone could find something they liked and learned from. (Everyone except Crumpet, but that's a whole different problem...) Anyway, some teachers are realizing that this is necessary, especially for boys. Not enough of them though..I know you've read the books on teaching boys - one said that just squeezing a ball in class is sometimes enough. Maybe you'll have to try little things like that if you can't convince some other people that homeschooling is the best option for M..

  7. Great idea. there is so much to be learned here! I'm probably going to try this with small numbers instead of large numbers because my son is just starting to explore numbers. I think it will be a great way to introduce number concepts to him-- I already went to Dollar tree and picked up some flashcards!


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