Activities to Develop Number Skills (page 2)
Learning to Count by Rote
Singing number songs or counting as a group in the classroom teaches the child counting order. Until the child has learned the other counting skills, it is better not to teach him a counting rhyme or chant that goes beyond 10.
Learning One-to-One Correspondence
Give children turns passing out cookies or napkins. Help them understand that each child gets one and only one cookie or napkin. Give children colored counting bears and colored blocks, and ask them to match one bear with one block.
Matching Numerals to Sets
Cut out pictures that have several objects in them. Glue each picture on a large card. At the bottom of the card, make a circle and glue a washer on it. Make matching circles with numerals on them and magnets on the backs. Have the children count the objects and match the correct circle to each picture.
To help children understand the ordinal meaning of numbers, give them practice by filling a bead counter. Provide one bead of one color, two of a second color, three of the third color, and so on. When children first start working with a bead stacker, you may want to paint the stacks to match the beads.
Begin a row of block "houses." Ask the children to put one roof on top of each house or one tree beside each house.
Let the children create books or posters based on sets. A book of the "two set" would include pictures of things that come in two's (two eyes, a pair of shoes, a cup and saucer, a set of twins).
Make a "fishing pole" from a dowel, a stick, or the small cardboard tube from a coat hanger. Make the line from string or yarn and the hook from a pipe cleaner. Glue a magnet on the hook. Make different colors of construction paper "fish," and put a staple or paper clip on each one. On the back of each fish, write a number. Have the children take turns "catching fish" and calling out the numbers of the fish they have caught. Then let each child place her fish on the correct counter in the "fish market." The "counter" is a piece of tagboard with pockets on the bottom that are color coded to match the fish. For example, if the fish with the numeral 3 on it is blue, then it is placed in the third pocket, which is also blue.
Hang a clothesline low enough for the children to reach easily. Provide clothespins and 10 numbered cards (a different number on each card). Have the children hang up the cards in order from 1 to 10.
Take Your Share
Pass around a tray of crackers or a basket of crayons. Ask each child to take, for instance, three crackers or four crayons.
Post a sign in each interest area or play center indicating the number of children who can play there—for example, a sign with the numeral 4 and four dots or stick figures.
Hide and Count
Play guessing games with small groups of children. Put down five or more chips, and let the children count them. Then, have the children close their eyes and remove several chips. Ask them how many chips you are hiding in your hand. Give the children a chance to play the game with you as the guesser, and let them play the game with each other.
Use numbers and number concepts in everyday conversations with children. Talk about how many days are left until a special event, how many children are usually in the group and how many are missing on a particular day, how many places to set when guests are expected, the shapes and sizes of blocks and buildings, and how long a trip will take. Have the children help you count out crackers for snack, put the blocks away in order of size, pour in the right amount of each ingredient in a recipe, and measure an area for a new carpet or bulletin board.
Set up a play "store," "fast-food restaurant," "veterinary clinic," or "gas station." Include a cash register and appropriate measuring instruments, such as a scale, a yardstick, a tape measure, a thermometer, or a tire gauge. Introduce number concepts and problems when you join the children's play.
Make songs and finger plays about numbers part of your regular routine. When children have become proficient at counting, introduce rhymes that involve counting by 2, like "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?"
Pattern and Counting Books
Include in your library counting books; books about size and shape; books with hidden, camouflaged, unusual, or out of place objects to find; and books with repeating or cumulative (add an element each time) patterns. Encourage the children to read these books with you and with each other, and have them make their own variants of favorite books.
Teach children addition by giving them real-life problems to solve. For instance, at snacktime, when six children are sitting around the table, provide just four crackers. Ask the children if there are enough crackers. When the children say "No," ask them how many more crackers are needed. If they answer "2," then say, "You are right. We have six children, so we need six crackers. Four crackers plus two more crackers equals six crackers." If they answer "5," then take out one more cracker and pass out the five crackers. Then say, "Oops, I have six children. I need one more cracker. Four plus two equals six."
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