Math Center Materials Related to the Math Standards
Materials to Support the Numbers and Operations Standard
Mathematicians consider the numbers and operations standard to be the most important of the standards for the early years (Clements, 2004). Operations include not only addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication but also “counting, comparing, grouping, dividing, uniting, partitioning, and composing” (Clements, 2004, p. 17).
Children typically begin counting by memorizing the number words. Depending upon the environment, this may begin as early as the age of 2 (Clements, 2004). However, number words are more difficult than other words for children to learn due to their function as a grouping rather than an individual item. Numbers are also a concept rather than a noun (Mix, Huttenlocher, & Levine, 2002).
To count items successfully children must understand one-to-one correspondence or that there is one number word for each item they are counting. They must learn to keep track of items as they count them and to tag or count each item only once. It is often easier to do this if children touch each item they are counting. Finally, they must understand that the final number that they count represents the number of items in the collection. This concept forms the basis for all future work with numbers and operations (Clements, 2004). When you assess children’s understanding of numbers, it is important to look at each of these steps. By doing so, you can determine what skills the child will need to work on to progress to the next level. For example, Sabrina could count by rote to 10. She recognized small sets (up to four) without counting them. However, if the set was larger, she seemed unable to determine how many items there were. While observing Sabrina counting money in the dramatic play area, the teacher noted that Sabrina did not tag each coin as she counted it and therefore recounted several of the coins. The teacher demonstrated how to organize and tag the coins to count them.
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