Kindergarten counting is far more complex than you’d think. What do you think is involved? What makes it hard?
Many adults, my pre-teacher self included, think that if a student can recite the numbers and identify the numeral, then they can count. Not so. Counting is a very sophisticated system that requires students to understand that each object counts for one, that each object must be counted only once, that the start and end point of the count doesn’t change the number, that the final number they say represents the number of items in the count, that every number contains other numbers, that numbers can be grouped, composed, and decomposed, that moving up the stable order of numbers results in greater numbers, and that’s just the beginning! If you hold up a full hand of fingers and one more, in the early stages, children will count beginning at one despite the fact that they have and likely always will have 5 fingers – they don’t start with the five. This is because their understanding of number and counting is in the early stages of development. Interestingly, we have a tendency to breeze over these concepts when, in fact, research shows that these are perhaps the most critical underpinnings for students to have for future math success.
Below is an example from Mrs. Federico’s Kindergarten class at Janet Lee of some counting. This activity was for 100th Day. Though Kindergarten’s needn’t count to 100, Mrs. Federico took this opportunity to investigate many counting principles like 1:1 by having students put one item in each square as they said the number. She also had students use different object to reinforce the idea that the object being counted doesn’t matter (size, shape, etc) which is the principle of Abstraction. Students reinforced the number patterns and the principle of Stable Number Order. They also discussed the decades and how the pattern repeats after each decade. Some students recognized the pattern of counting by tens which required them to Unitize (which is a very advanced principle!) In all, there was an entry point for every single student during this activity – which made it highly engaging and extremely effective. I loved observing this great learning today. Thanks for having me.