Children develop numeracy much like developing literacy, over time with practice and as they are developmentally ready. Your child may be reciting number words well before she understands what the numbers mean. She may sing number songs, recite numbers, and apear to “count things” before really understanding the one-to-one correspondence that is so important. Numbers are complicated: They have a set sequence and each number has a word, a numeral, and means a certain amount…that adds up to A LOT to learn before we even start with mathematical operations like adding and subtracting!
Start with touching or picking up items one-by-one to help develop one-to-one correspondence. Point to or touch real-world objects as you say each number. When counting toys, for example, as each is picked up say “one,” “two,” and then talk about the group of things as being “two bears.” As your child begins to show more comfort with this, it becomes easier for him to understand that counting the items in a pile “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 “ means that there are six toys. Recognizing the numerals is a separate step in the process. This is like “reading the number,” which is different from “speaking the number” and “understanding the number.”
When choosing apps for your little one, check to see if the apps are intended to help children understand and practice counting things, recognize numerals, or manipulate numbers like simple adding or “taking away.” To avoid meltdowns and frustration, match the activities to your child’s readiness for these numeracy skills.
Here are questions to ask your child:
- I am counting your toes — one, two, three…___ (pause for them to insert ”four”)
- How many ____ do you have?
- How many apple slices are on your plate?
- Let’s count the toys in this box together, okay?
- Can you count your ______?
- Can you count and point to the objects in a row?
Here we share apps that provide good opportunities to practice counting. In a later post we will explore other numeracy apps to practice other skills.
This app provides clear images of items and counts each as they are touched one-by-one.
This app “counts” the number of fingers touching the screen of your iPad, says in a child-like voice how many touches there are, and also shows that many items or the numeral. This is good for children who are already beginning to touch and count items in their real world.
This is an app with a very clean and clear design. The action is simple: Touch the squares and hear the number count. Settings allow you to set tapping the squares or dragging them, counting up or counting down, and a few others.
Bugs and Buttons 2 is a fun, irresistible app with 18 games and activities. Counting the bugs is one of those intriguing activities. We love the beautiful graphics too.
The series of apps — Bugs and Buttons 1 and 2, Bugs and Bubbles, Bugs and Numbers, and so forth — each have one counting specific activity. These apps are best for children a bit further along in their development as the interface is more “involved” with life-like bugs in realistic settings which may make it difficult for younger children to discriminate the counting tasks. The activities combine counting with numeral recognition (tappers, draggers).
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