Using concrete examples of numbers is absolutely essential to helping your child understand counting concepts through 10. In the Preschool-aged years kids learn best with activities that immerse them in a concept. Using visual representations, symbols, and words to represent numbers helps them to firmly grasp onto the idea of numbers, which can often be abstract and confusing. An effective way of doing this can be using a ten-frame—a graphic organizer for pieces representing numbers up to ten. Additionally, after introducing numbers 6-10 individually children can better understand sequential order when the numbers are used together during the same work period. Items such as tokens or small toys—even fingers—are math manipulatives that bring concepts to life. Kids are more likely to recall information in the short term, and over a week or two by being repetitive with the “short term” activities a couple of times per day, learning is able to be stored in long term memory. Kids academy offers plenty of valuable and easy-to-use learning resources for use at home with your preschooler.
As mentioned above, a first step in working with children on numbers 6-10 is to introduce them one at a time. Make one day all about 6, and then next day all about 7 and so on. When you get to 10, don’t address zero by itself until the understanding of the 2 digit number 10 is understood. Treat 10 as the finish line that your child wants to get to! When working with 10, have them shout it out! Once all digits 6-10 have been introduced on their own. Begin to use pages that show them in sequential order with pictures to represent each amount. After several days of short term practice have occurred with sequential order, it is time to go over the concept of zero.
Zero is best understood when concrete objects are given to the child and then taken away. This helps them to understand that something is something, and nothing is nothing. As we all know, children dislike not having something! So, understanding zero is understanding there is nothing there—not even a number!
The next step in working on numbers with your preschool child would be to count from zero to ten. Use songs, chants, fingers, toes, and toys to shout out that number 10 whenever it is reached! When songs and chants are memorized, it is time to start arranging items with a ten frame( or in a straight line) while you say each name, one at a time. Kids must understand the a number symbol is a name for an amount of “things”. Touching objects while counting out loud over and over again will move the numbers 1-10 into long term memory. With these tasks and others like them, the concept understanding develops and preschoolers aren’t just reciting things from rote memory. Using a ten frame or sorting paper with ten boxes is a great way to have children practice their one to one correspondence at the same time as getting that kinesthetic movement of objects. Check out the following resources from our Kid’s Academy library to help you and your child through the learning process of these concepts.
This Count and Write activity can be printed for the numbers 6-10. Beginning with this type of activity with preschool-aged learners is ideal because they are practicing the number symbol, one-to-one correspondence and the number word at the same time. Instead of teaching all the “ideas” about a number in isolation, Kids Academy Count and Write worksheets roll it all together into one valuable activity. It would be a really good idea once they seem to have “mastered” the numbers 0-10, that they spiral back to review each one again with these sheets. Meaningful, repetitive practice makes a great impact on how children move content from short term to long term memory.
Simple worksheets like this Count the Stegasaurus’s Spikes will help when your little learner is ready for one-to-one correspondence. This bold and colorful picture has clear details that small fingers can touch as they say each number. Once they reach the answer they must remember the number symbol for what they counted. There are other examples of this type of sheet on the Kid’s Academy Resource Page for PreK level Math. Be thoughtful about the ones you use, and with repetition the skills will become permanent.
When simpler counting sheets like the one above are becoming easy for your child, you can then branch out into practicing one-to-one correspondence in groups of objects. The details may not be as pronounced on these pictures, which begins to mold the skill of visualizing beyond a partially obstructed view. Young children often begin their learning years with the general understanding “out of sight, out of mind”. If they cannot see the cereal on top of the fridge, it must not exist at all! However, as time goes on throughout the toddler and PreK years, they develop that sense of things existing beyond what they can see right in front of them. This Counting Objects worksheet and others just like it will help kids practice not only counting, but also deeper thinking while doing so.
Extending PreK practice with counting happens when they not only have to count but also have to sort items to get to a correct answer. This presents a visual challenge as well as a mathematical one. There are several sheets just like this Categorization: How Many Toys? resource in the Kid’s Academy Resource Library. Remember: repetitive, consistent guided practice will make the concepts of counting 0-10 permanent. This readies children for the next steps like addition and working with a number line.
Another way to get learners to be more accurate if they have trouble with the worksheet above, is to try this Counting Flowers sheet. This type of activity takes the sorting element away, and therefore becomes a one step problem instead of two. Connecting the number they count with the number symbol to the left will continue to build on their basic knowledge of writing and recognizing number patterns.
Writing and recognizing how the number 0 is different from other numbers will help your child build an understanding of the concepts of zero as “nothing” and zero as a helper as we count up in increments of 10. Start simple with this Write 0 worksheet, and then solidify the learning by giving your child some objects and taking them away. As in, “now you have 4, but if I take 4 you are left with 0” and so on.
There are also some learning videos accessible to you on Kid’s Academy for counting 10s. Try this one, where a cute monkey is your guide through the zoo! The videos keep things short and simple so your preschool child will want to rewatch them again and again.
You can find more detailed information about these math concepts and different aspects of early number sense in Kid’s Academy topical articles for this unit.