Games that build fluency with numbers are important in the early years. One such game is Two Numbers, in which children learn to recognize written numerals, place them in the correct order, and practice addition skills. To play, children roll dot cubes and identify the number they rolled. They then turn over either the corresponding number cards or the number card that corresponds to the sum of the two numbers. The goal is to be the first player to turn over all the number cards. While children are identifying written numerals and practicing addition skills, they are also building a mental number line. Being able to call on a mental number line helps children compare numbers and understand operations like addition and subtraction.
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Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
The snake is gathering up the mice and counting them (“1, 2, 3”, up to 10) as he puts them in a jar to eat later. When he goes off to gather up one really big mouse, the 10 mice tip over the jar and escape! They “uncount” themselves 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This adorable story is great for practicing counting forwards and backwards.
To extend the learning in this book you could make 10 mice. Have children act out the counting in the book by placing them in a clear container, then have them escape and counting backwards.
How Many Snails: A counting book by Paul Giganti, Jr., illustrated by Donald Crews
Walking to the meadow, lake, library, park, bakery, toy store, and other stops, the author wonders ‘how many?’ about a variety of different objects and in different combinations; such as: “How many snails were there? How many snails had striped shells? How many snails had striped shells and stuck their heads out?” This is a fun counting book to use as a read aloud and then for children to browse on their own counting all the objects and sorting them into different groups. It specifically targets the skills of cardinality—knowing how many in all in a group. This skill is associated with stronger mathematics achievement later in school, so make sure to practice it in preschool!