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I’ll admit right off the bat, our family chooses not to stress out about academic studies. The way we approach math, especially basic counting is evidence of our conviction that the majority of early learning happens during regular, everyday life.
When our oldest was little, I printed off lots of preschool printable packs and spent time counting pictures on a piece of paper or little plastic bears (and that worked great for us then).
However, as we added more children to our family and life became busier we gradually started incorporating counting more into our normal routines.
Instead of taking time to manufacture an opportunity to count, simply weave it into your normal day.
- plates and forks as you set the table
- cups as you empty them from the dishwasher
- eggs as you crack them for breakfast
- the buttons on your child’s sweater
- stuffed animals as you put them away
- blocks as you build a tower
- cars that cross the intersection while you wait at a red light
- pairs of socks as you fold laundry
- stairs as you climb them
- crayons as you put them back in the box
- the days until a special event (our kids always count to Sunday when they get to eat cereal and switch jobs for breakfast :))
- grapes or crackers at snack time
To help our kids relate the oral numbers to their written forms, we also incorporate lots of counting books into our regular reading. We start out by reading the page then we point to each item as we count them. Once we’ve counted we finish by saying there are _______ items. After a few times modeling this, our kids start counting with us as we use their finger to point to each item. Before too long they are counting them all on their own.
Here are a few of the counting books we’ve used:
- Anno’s Counting Book
- Raindrop, Plop! (also counts backwards)
- Curious George Learns to Count from 1 to 100 (probably a little long for most toddlers, but a great book once your child has mastered counting to ten or twenty)
- Ten Apples Up On Top
- One Duck Stuck
- Pigs love Potatoes (one of our children’s favorites!)
- Ten Black Dots
- Doggies (our kids love making the sounds for the different dogs)
- Roar! A Noisy Counting Book