While counting may seem like second nature to you, preschoolers are just beginning to recognize numbers. By the time a child reaches age 4 she should know how to count up to five, according to the PBS Parents' website. Some children can recognize numbers up to 10 and a few may be able to count up to 20. You can reinforce counting skills with number-recognition games that will give your preschooler hands-on, active learning.
Play Eye Spy Numbers
Young children develop the ability to recognize numbers early. Take advantage of this and point out numerals and quantities in everyday life, suggests mathematics education professors Julie Sarama and Douglas H. Clements on the Scholastic Teachers website. Play an "eye spy" game, noting numbers in the preschooler's setting. For example, the numeral "2" is above the classroom door, designating the classroom as Room 2. You say to the preschoolers, “I spy a 2.” The preschoolers look for a 2. This helps preschoolers recognize and identify numbers in print. You can continue this game outside or when you’re on a class field trip.
Match the Numeral to the Quantity
The ability to recognize numbers leads to identifying quantities and naming groupings, according to Sarama and Clements in their article "Early Math: How Children Learn About Numbers." You can connect recognizing numbers with the amount the numbers represent by playing a matching game. This will help the preschooler count, and will eventually help her solve more sophisticated addition and subtraction problems. Make two decks of matching cards using index cards. Start with five in each group. Write the numbers one through five one the first set in pencil. Have the child trace over each number with a crayon or marker. Ask him to say the name of the number as he draws the numeral. Create corresponding quantity cards with the other deck. Use star stickers or simple shape pictures to make groupings of one through five. Mix the cards together and have the child match the numbers with the quantities.
Moving Math to Count the Number
The ability to say numbers words to indicate numerals and quantities develops during the preschool years, according to the Ohio Early Learning and Development Standards. Get the preschooler up and active with a movement-based math game. Write the numbers one through five onto pieces of poster board, with one numeral per sheet of paper. Ask the child to stand a few feet back from each piece of poster board. She must look at the numeral, identify it and say the number. Next, she must march, walk or leap that quantity of steps to get to the number. For example, if she reads "3," she must count three steps out to get to the numeral board. This game allows the preschooler to practice recognizing numbers up to five, begin basic counting and identify quantities. In this case, the quantity is the number of steps to get to each board.
Tradtional Hopscotch Numeral Game
Hopscotch is a traditional game that requires children to recognize and identify numbers. The ability to recognize written numerals is an ability that children should develop before they begin kindergarten, according to the national early childhood organization Zero to Three. You can draw a hopscotch board on the playground with sidewalk chalk or make one indoors using masking tape on a carpet. In the winter you can get creative and make an outdoor board by lining up stones or twigs in the snow. Start with the numbers one through five. As the preschooler builds recognition skills, move up to 10. You can modify the game by making a mini version that works for indoor table-top play. Draw the board onto a piece of paper and use a coin or button to throw as a marker. Instead of hopping, the child's fingers can do the walking. For example, if the marker lands on the three, the child will jump his fingers to the number on the board.
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