Connect Different Names for Numbers

Recommended Age: 4+ | Mathematical Topic: Counting

What To Do

Numbers come in many forms: numerals (1, 2, 3...), words (one, two, three...), sets of objects (1 doll, 2 dolls...), and so on. Making connections between these forms is called "mapping." Highlight mappings for your child. If you see the numeral "3," call it "three." If you see a set of four cookies, call it "four." Help your child see "twoness" by matching two cups to two dolls.

You don't have to talk about all possible mappings every time, at least not at first. But once your child starts to recognize sets and numerals, you can build up to highlighting all the parts ("Hey look, it's the number 3. Let's make three trains. Do we have three? Let's check! One-two-three. Yep, that's three.").

Help your child connect different parts of the number system by comparing them. If you make two sets with the same number, like three blocks and three blocks, you can help your child see the mappings by calling both sets, "Three." ("Hey, you have three blocks and I have three blocks. We each have three!") and pairing up the blocks in each set. It works the same way with written numbers. If you see a written "3," you can say, "Hey, that's a three! Can we find another three?" and then compare the two numerals.

Moving On

If you give your child one part of a mapping, and he gives you the other part, you'll know he's got it. For example, if you show your child a written "3," can they say the name "three" and make a set of three things to match it?