A few weeks ago, I was walking across campus and found myself counting the number of steps it had taken me to get from our office to the campus bookstore. After realizing what I had unconsciously done, I purposely counted my steps on my return trip to check for accuracy and, to my surprise, I was off by four. I was perturbed. How could it have taken me four additional steps to get back? Was my gait off? Did I miscount? Did I veer slightly off my original path? What happened? Rather than go out again and recount (the temperature in Fresno was over 100 degrees that day), I just sat and wondered.
Why had I counted my steps? I did not leave the office intending to count, it just happened. I was counting for the sake of counting. I often find myself counting things for no reason, the number of white vehicles that I pass on the freeway, the number of trees on the street, the number of red lights I had to sit through, the number of people at bus stops, the number of items in my shopping cart. I literally count a lot of things for no real reason, which reminded me of a comment made by Dr. Les Steffe during his visit to the AIMS Center this past Fall, when he said, “Students need to be presented with many opportunities to count. Have them count anything and everything.”
Whether children are counting the number of other children in line, how many books in the library, the number of teddy bear counters at a center, or prepared counting collections (with a variety of materials), it’s important for us (the adults) to pay attention to how they are engaging in their counting. Here are three questions to ask yourself to guide your observations.
- When counting by rote (verbal counting), are they simply learning the list of numbers, to ten or twenty? Does it sound like they are singing the ABC’s just with numbers? Is it an arbitrary list of numbers? Is it a sequential number word sequence?
- When counting small collections are they able to subitize (recognize small sets of objects without counting)? If so are they moving from being a perceptual subitizer to a conceptual one? (can you link to my 2nd, 3rd, & 4th blogs:
- When given objects to count, are students able to touch and count objects that have been organized in a row? Do they have one-to-one correspondence? Do they understand that the last number stated tells “how many” (cardinality)? Are they beginning to compare quantities (more than, less than)?
Reflecting on these questions can help adults think more deeply about children’s counting and can assist in providing appropriate counting experiences for your young child.
In closing, I want to share my favorite video clip of a young boy counting, as it serves as a great reminder that children should count anything and everything!
The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education, the working arm of the AIMS Education Foundation, has committed to helping teachers in the greater Central Valley of California pursue their Master’s degrees at Fresno Pacific University. To this end, funds have been set aside to scholarship teachers interested in earning one of the two MA… Continue Reading
Beverly Ford, updates us on the progress she and the other members of her team are observing in their work within a particular school setting. She tells a few stories related to how her students are demonstrating various stages of learning. Bev expands on some of the things her partner, David Pearce, discussed in last… Continue Reading
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I have just concluded my second year at the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education in which our Center’s main focus is to learn how young children come to know math. Through our partnership with two Head Start early learning programs, the four AIMS early math research associates observed two sites that housed 10… Continue Reading
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David Pearce, presently a member of our Coordinating Units team spent that last year working with the K-1 students. He relates to us a few instances where he saw the work of Steffe and others come to life, and how it is changing his perspective on children’s mathematics. Continue Reading
Fidget spinners have suddenly become one of the hottest topics in education right now. They are the current craze with students all over the United States. Touted as a low-tech toy, they are perceived as being either helpful or harmful, depending who you ask. Countless articles, blogs, podcasts, interviews, etc. can be found each day… Continue Reading
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