learning to count

Bubble Activity #16: Counting Bubbles Math Fun

With Big Sister going to school, Little Sister has been showing more interest in paper and pencil activities. She had fun counting bubbles with this simple activity.

counting bubbles math fun

 

Counting bubbles outside is almost impossible. Sometimes, instead of one single bubble floating away gently, several really small ones appear and disappear before they can be counted. But even if the counting isn’t accurate, kids can practice saying the numbers.

For small children, counting starts by saying the numbers. They need lots of opportunities to count so they develop the understanding that one number refers to one thing. This is part of number sense.

Using an idea from Anna’s blog on fish bubble counting mats, another teacher-mom, we made our own. I cut out a fish from a cereal box and traced around it on card stock, drawing some circles for bubbles. Little Sister put one flat glass marble on each circle. Together, we said the numbers.

The digit is included underneath the bubbles, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as kids are past putting items in their mouth, younger children could have just one big page and put bubbles on it for some one-to-one matching (one-to-one correspondence). Older kids may like to draw their own sea creatures and bubble circles.

Another time we do this, I’ll draw the bubbles in standard patterns, such as 4 corners for the number 4, and 2 lines of 3 bubbles for the number 6. The ability to look at a group of objects and immediately tell how many is called subitize. For example, 5 is really fast to know as soon as we see 4 corners with 1 in the middle. Dominoes, dice, and decks of cards use these patterns and they are a sort of short cut to counting. It’s also a form of visualizing, or making images in the mind. Quite likely, you do this all the time, you just didn’t know there was a word for it. Neither does spell-check!

counting bubbles math fun

Whatever the words, what’s most important is that kids have opportunities to play with numbers. To make this sensory, you might want to use a bowl or container of water and let kids count the marble bubbles. *Just a caution, the clear glass is really hard to see in the clear water when it comes time to pour the water in the sink! Even one in the drain is too many.* Is this counting bubbles a play-of-the-day your child might like?

Star Wars Math Counting and Patterning

Children’s play counts when it comes to early learning and development so an idea for a play-of-the-day is Star Wars math  counting and patterning.

star-countNot having Star Wars characters and toys isn’t even a problem. We have a few but not enough to count—pardon the pun—so instead we used some glow-in-the-dark stars that came from a dollar store. We needed something else so borrowed the round plastic pieces from a checkerboard game to be planets. Planets are certainly part of Star Wars.

Whatever you use, there are lots of ways that kids can count, such as all one color, or all of one kind. The important part is to touch each item as the number is said. Saying the numbers accurately comes with lots of repetition but this isn’t all there is to counting. To understand counting, kids need to figure out that each object goes with a number. As we count, each number means one more thing. Developing this number sense also needs practice as well as hands-on time. Lots and lots of hands on opportunities. As in countless…chuckle, chuckle.

star wars math playPatterning is also a critical math skill. For that matter, it’s more than that, it’s a critical thinking skill. Information bombards the brain in vast quantities and finding a pattern reduces it into a smaller amount. We made some simple patterns star/planet, star/planet and blue star/pink star, blue star/pink star. Little Sister made another of her own, 2 blue stars/2 pink stars, 2 blue stars/2 pink stars.

After that, she wanted to use the planets and stars as money and play that way. More Star Wars math counting and patterning and now money. Such play will help children develop familiarity with math. Math anxiety is all too common, even in the early grades. If kids have been able to play with math, they are confident and eager.

Will your child’s play today count?

Dinovember: Counting Dinosaurs and Number Sense

Number sense develops as children play with and experience numbers. Counting dinosaurs is an appealing and fun activity for young children.

toys for math funDollar stores often have inexpensive bags with an assortment of dinosaurs. These can be used for counting and other fun. Kids just learning to count may not have all the names for the numbers and they may not be able to say them in the right order, but counting accurately develops from countless practice doing it over and over.

Not only are kids learning to count, they are figuring out how many items go with each number. To develop the concept of ‘twoness’, the brain needs to see, hear, and feel how many is two many, many times. As kids hear us and themselves counting two, see two objects and feel two, the brain makes the connections and pathways. This is part of number sense.

counting with dinosaursAs kids are counting, we can occasionally ask them to show us how many is 3 dinosaurs and other numbers too. We can make comments like, “Oh look, 4 dinosaurs is more than 2. I can see 4 dinosaurs here and only 2 over there. ” We can listen to them count and when they stop, add one more and say the number. It’s obvious to us, but it takes practice to understand that counting the next number means adding one more. Of course, older kids will be able to count much higher and more accurately than younger ones.

Mathematician William Paul Thurston is often quoted as saying, “Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms, it’s about understanding.” Understanding will grow as children have opportunities to play with numbers.

Speaking of numbers:

  1. Do you know what is a T. Rex’s favorite number?
  2. It’s eight (ate.)

How many dinosaurs can come out and play at your house or center?

Halloween Math: V is for Vampires That Count

In folklore, vampires are obsessed with counting. For some Halloween math, how about kid vampires that count? Remember, Count von Count from Sesame Street? He counted everything. Perhaps, this mania for counting is why so many vampires are called Count. Whatever the play on words, counting can also be a form of play. For kids … Continue reading Halloween Math: V is for Vampires That 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. Young 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 … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Colors for Counting and Numbers

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 … Continue reading Some Handy Ideas for Kindergarten Readiness: Counting

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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness Rocks! Counting Rocks