learning to count

Colors of Childhood: Colors for Counting and Numbers

Colors can be part of helping kids explore some basic and critical math. Play activities can use colors for counting and numbers.

color blocks for math playYoung children will explore numbers on their own using the words they have heard as they stack blocks or put small things in containers. Although it’s not accurate, they are getting the ideas that numbers tell the story of how many there are, of the quantity of something. They need lots of practice before counting is accurate.

colors blocks for numbersAs kids play, we can occasionally ask questions like: How many red blocks? How many blue dinosaurs? We can also ask them to compare: Are there more red cars or more green ones?  Questions like these can be part of play as appropriate. These  blocks are stacked up to be towers of different numbers.

board games for math funOlder kids might like to explore numbers and counting with board games. Often, boards will have different colors for the spaces and each person’s marker will be a particular color. We don’t even notice how colors are used, they just seem to be part of the background.

deck of cards for countingDecks of cards use only 2 colors, red or black, but the colors and numbers work together. Kids can match colors or numbers in a variety of card games. They will often invent their own ways to play with cards.

One of the tools used in kindergarten for helping kids with numbers is the Power of Ten cards. These are long, narrow grids with two rows of five squares. The squares are colored in to make the numbers. Kids had fun putting blocks on top of the colored squares or other items. They often made their own numbers using the zero cards.power of ten cardsThese are only a few suggestions for activities that kids can use colors for counting and numbers. Hopefully, they will inspire you to find ways to support your child’s play. Could we color and count the ways?

Some Handy Ideas for Kindergarten Readiness: Counting

1 little, 2 little, 3 little fingers can all be used for counting which is another kindergarten readiness learning and fun activity. Counting can be done anywhere and at anytime. Not only is counting an early math skill, it is also the base for number sense. As children repeat the experience of counting over and over again, they begin to understand that one number counts only one item. This seems so obvious to us, but remember math is new to their brains and it takes lots and lots of counting practice for little ones to match one number and one object. After practicing counting, they figure out how many objects belong to each number.

countingChildren use their fingers for counting by pointing at or touching objects. Later, they will their fingers to help with mental adding or taking away. Even adults will sometimes still use their fingers. Try adding up how many family members will be at a big meal and you will probably be counting on your fingers.

Aren’t hands handy? So far this month, hands have helped kids with all kinds of learning: singing, developing fine muscle skills, building, painting, drawing, playing in sand and water, talking with puppets, connecting with nature, crafts, exploring humor, and counting. What else can hands do?

Kindergarten Readiness Rocks! Counting Rocks

For some very inexpensive kindergarten readiness math fun and learning for young children, use rocks. Usually, rocks are quite easy to find and they can be fun to count. When counting, as you can, help your child point to or touch only one rock at a time. They will make mistakes as they learn how to count.
Counting is one of the first math skills that children learn, after they learn the names of numbers, that is. While kids may know the numbers in the right order, that does not mean they understand about counting. While it’s obvious to us, children need to learn that one item goes with one number. As we count, we are counting only one thing at a time. This is part of number sense and lots and lots of practice is needed just counting in order for kids’ brains to develop this basic understanding of numbers.

As children play, they develop their number sense and gradually figure out how many items belong to each number. If appropriate for your child, s/he may be ready for some early problem solving, too. Because children learn at different rates some will be able to count higher than others. Math activities will certainly be part of the lessons and play at kindergarten but the more experiences and play kids have with numbers before arriving at school the better will be their foundation. Does this activity count with you and your child?