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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Numbers are Everywhere

Early Counting and Early Reading are Equal!

While driving with my four-year-old, he started to sing the alphabet. He could say every letter and sang it in a perfect sing-song way. He loves to find letters on signs, buildings and license plates. What about numbers and counting? Why are numbers and counting not taught like the alphabet or stressed with the importance that early reading is? Counting is complex and as a parent you might not know where to start. Besides working with your child on finger patterns and getting them fluent with "firing away" their numbers 1 to 10, what else can we be doing to prepare our children much like we do with reading?

FAWFP Next Steps: Games
Board Games:
Now that your child can "fire away" finger patterns from 1 to 10 and automatically identify the numbers 1 to 10 when flashed, your child is ready to explore board games. I have made a list of board games that I use with my Math Recovery students and my own son. Things to consider when looking at board games:
1. What kind of dice does the game include? Do they have dots that my child can easily count and eventually automatically recognize?
2. Are cards included that have numbers on them to practice matching the symbol of the number and not just the quantity?
3. What does the board game look like? Are there numbers on the board, how high do the numbers go?
4. Is the board game fun and easy to play?
5. Will my child become frustrated because the level is too high or will the board game "grow" with my child?

More Game Ideas:

If you do not want to get out a board game, a deck of cards or dice will do. Kids love cards. They love holding them, dealing them out or just playing with them. Just like when your child started to hold, chew on, throw and even tear up books, let your child explore the materials that you provide for them. At first they may want to play with the cards and not name the numbers or count the dots on them. After they have had time to check out their game, sit down with them and have fun. 

Dominos: They can count the dots, make a row of dominos in order, and even play the actual game. They will love building with them. Build a domino city asking questions like, "I need a domino with 4 dots on it."

Cards:  If you decide to play go fish, take out the face cards and focus on 1 to 10. Make connections for them like, "What number did you just draw or can you count the dots on the card to find the name of the number?"

Dollar Store Junk: I know it sounds funny but the Dollar Store has great materials to practice counting. I just found an assortment of plastic dinosaurs that my son loved lining them all up, counting them and sequencing them in every other color. They have great marbles, popsicle sticks…you name it. Just keep in mind that you are looking for things to make that link with counting just like you do when looking for a good book for your child.

Barrel of Monkeys: I still remember linking the monkey’s arms together when I was little. This is a great game to take in the car. Don't forget to ask them, "How many monkeys did you link together? Can you link 5 monkeys? What happens if 1 monkey falls off?"

Snap Cubes: Snap cubes can be found at a teaching resource store. They come in an array of colors. Snap cubes are great for building, and making "number trains.” Ask your child to see how big of a train they can make with the cubes and count the cubes in the train.

Find Numbers Everywhere!

When I brought my first son home from the hospital, I remember all the cute board books I had lined up and the routine my husband and I had of reading books every night before bed. Now when we read books at night we also count anything we can in the books to making a link to numbers and reading. When we are in the car, we not only sing the alphabet, but practice counting forwards and backwards. We loves to count back from 10 to 0 and say, “Blast off.” We look for numbers on signs, buildings and license plates too. Including numbers and counting in every part of your child's life will develop their life-long learner skills and give them confidence in the classroom. It allows them to see the importance of counting and reading at a young age.

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