Math Background

Number Concepts: Tips and Tricks

  • Tell or read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” or “The Three Little Pigs.” Discuss how the number 3 is important to the story. Then work together to rewrite the story as “Goldilocks and the Four Bears” or “The Five Little Pigs.”
  • Make cards with numbers from 10 to 20 and place them in a stack. Ask one child to choose a card and say the number. Then give each child in a small group that number of blocks. Ask each child to make a structure with that number of blocks. When children are finished, have them describe their structures, using position and color words. Reinforce conservation of number by pointing out that each structure was made with the same number of blocks.
  • Ask five children to stand in a line. Point to each child and have the class say the matching ordinal number. Then ask the other children to close their eyes, and rearrange two children in the line. Help children determine how the line changed by asking, Who is third in line now? How did Marie's place change? As children gain confidence with ordinal numbers, you may wish to repeat the activity with a line of six to ten children.
  • Children with limited fine motor abilities will benefit from having a larger writing area for writing numbers. Provide newsprint or writing paper with 2-inch dashed writing lines. Have children trace numbers and then write independently. By your observations, you will know when they are ready to write numbers on smaller writing lines.
  • Some children will be confused by the concept of zero, especially since common words such as none or nothing are also associated with zero. Place five common classroom items on a tray. Point to each as children name them. Then have children close their eyes as you remove one of the items. Ask which item is missing and then count the remaining items. Continue until zero items are left on the tray.
  • Since a major portion of the Kindergarten curriculum is based on number concepts, remember to use a variety of manipulatives during the year to spark enthusiasm. Be on the lookout for interesting objects and encourage children to begin their own counting collections.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K