Counting is a key principle in mathematics instruction, but it’s important to tie counting into nouns, such as “How many steps to the lunchroom?” “How many boys are here today?” “How many jumping jacks can you do?”
Using real objects is also critical to developing number sense. Here are two simple tools that connect the oral with the concrete.
First is a pipe cleaner with ten beads attached. (I also used beads as knots at the end so the other beads wouldn’t fall off.) Children can slide the beads from left to right as they count from 1-10. Then flip it over and count 11-20, and so forth. Hold it vertically and say, “I wonder how many beads there are now?” Continue holding the pipe cleaner in different directions and counting. Imagine that? There are ten beads no matter which way we hold it!!!
- Use the beads for doing simple addition and subtraction problems.
The cotton shoelace has numbers written with a fabric marker. Slide on a bead and children are ready to count. This shoelace counter can also be used for addition, subtraction, one more, one less, etc.