# learning to count

## Fairy and Elf Activities #6 for Boys and Girls: Fairy Math Fun and Play

Flat glass marbles, like these in a grown-up friend’s fairy garden, inspired some fairy math fun and play counting, grouping, and making patterns.

In the craft drawer,  we have a few of these smooth, sparkly glass circles left-over from another project. They make wonderful fairy rocks. Big Brother, who is just 4, likes to count. He counted these several times. Each time he counted he got a different number, because he skipped a number here and there.

Accurate counting comes from practice; just remembering all the numbers is quite a challenge, never mind getting them in the right order. He did touch each marble as he said a number, showing that he has figured out each number goes with one item. This one-to-one correspondence is the foundation for counting, that one number is connected to one thing. As we say more numbers, we mean more things.

While he was counting, Big Brother noticed there were different colors. He liked the green ones so he separated them from the light purple ones. Making groups is a powerful thinking skill. As we think, we organize and deal with information. Do you remember the movie, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?” Grouping or categorizing is like the movie; it shrinks information into smaller packages.

Making patterns is another way to shrink information. If the fairy rocks are in random order, it would be hard to remember the color of each one. If there is a pattern, such as purple rock – green rock, purple rock – green rock, it’s so much easier.

With the fairy rocks, I showed Big Brother a purple-green, purple-green pattern. He wasn’t interested in having a pattern. He just wanted the green ones. Again, patterning is a skill that kids develop from experience and practice. There will be other opportunities to show simple patterns until the brain makes the needed connections.

For most of this fairy math fun, Big Brother directed the play as he wanted.  He liked making a line and different shapes. After a while, he decided to do something different. We carefully put the fairy rocks away so Little Brother didn’t get them. Do you have any items that could be fairy rocks for some math fun and play?

For more fairy play activities, check the plays-of-the-day on the blog.

## Dragon Play Activities: Counting Dragon Treasure Math Fun

Counting dragon treasure doesn’t need to take long, unless you’re a dragon. But even if kids only spend a few minutes, that adds to the experience pile. And tonight on tv we’ve certainly watched the drama of counting and numbers.

Dragons collect all sorts of treasures. Since they are imaginary creatures that could be practically anything. Maybe they like buttons, marbles, or cars. Some dragons may look for bottle caps or beads. A nature dragon spend his time counting rocks. After all wizards, magicians, and witches might have turned real jewels into rocks. Kids can probably suggest other items for dragon treasure. Little Sister got out her treasure box that had buttons, rocks, and some plastic crystals from an old dining room light.

Round up a dozen or so things and let kids count them. At first, the counting won’t be accurate but learning to count is a process. What’s more important is that kids are figuring out one number goes with one object. This takes lots of experiences with counting. If kids have a pretty good idea of the numbers, they can choose to be a number dragon. For instance, the 4-dragon likes his treasure to be in piles of 4.  As kids create piles of 4, they are developing an idea of 4-ness. This happens for other numbers too. How many pieces of treasure would a 3-dragon want? That’s right, she would want piles of 3 things.

Little Sister tried to count the items in her treasure box and carefully pointed to each one as she said the number. However, she missed some and then couldn’t remember which ones she’d counted. I showed her she could pick up one treasure at a time and put it in the lid. This was better and much easier.

Kids absolutely need to play and have fun with numbers. This helps them become familiar and confident about their own number skills. One in four people suffer from math anxiety. How comfortable are you with numbers? The best way for kids to be comfortable is if they have countless play experiences. Pun intended. Think of play activities with numbers and counting as brain treasure. Dragons don’t get treasure all at once. They get a bit at a time and it grows into a huge pile. That works for kids too. Little play opportunities grow into big learning. Can counting dragon treasure be part of your kid-dragon’s fun today?

## #10: Space Math Activities and Games – 3, 2, 1, Blast Off

Interest in space is universal (chuckle, chuckle) and space math activities and games are fun ways to explore the universe of numbers. We count the ways…

Somewhere, young kids discover they can say a string of numbers, make explosive noises, and blast off in all directions at top speed. Arms together above head is optional. What could be more fun? At first, kids will not say all the numbers in the correct order but they have the idea. They may not know they are counting down seconds of time but certainly realize they are getting closer to the point of no more waiting.

Besides counting down, hopscotch is another way to blast off. To play hopscotch, kids or adults can draw a game with chalk on a sidewalk using the numbers 1 to 10. Kids can start at the 10 end and jump backwards. When they get to the 1 they can Blast Off and run all around. If using the driveway, be careful of cars.

If you have some play numbers at home, kids may want to put them in a line and say them like a countdown. Little Sister isn’t yet matching up the name with the shape of the number but she liked putting them in a line on the floor. Last month, one of the transportation activities was zooming cars on a road made of alphabet letters. Parents and caregivers can print the numbers 1 to 10 on cards and write Blast Off on another one. Little hands may like to trace them once printed. Kids can put these in countdown order and use a rocket or space vehicle instead of a car and zoom it along the road, or more accurately, the flight path.

Experiences like these help kids understand how math works. Numbers are a series sort of like steps. Numbers can go in two directions, up or down, and take us closer or farther away. As an adult are you comfortable with math? Unfortunately, both kids and adults can develop math anxiety. Playing and having fun with numbers and math ideas is one way of helping kids feel comfortable and confident. Can your child blast off the day with some space math activities and games?

## Transportation Play #13: Transportation Counting Activity

Make the day count with this simple transportation counting activity that also helps to develop number sense. These are two early math skills for kids. In urban areas, there are lots of red, yellow, and green traffic lights. You can make a traffic light counting board with a piece of paper or cardboard. Down the … Continue reading Transportation Play #13: Transportation Counting Activity

## 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 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. … Continue reading Bubble Activity #16: Counting Bubbles Math Fun

## 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. Not 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 … Continue reading Star Wars Math Counting and Patterning

## 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. Dollar 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 … Continue reading Dinovember: Counting Dinosaurs and Number Sense

## 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