Understanding an Amount

May 16

Counting comes fairly easy to most of us as we practice saying those wonderful numbers over and over, but understanding what each number means can be hard to some children and often takes some extra time to learn. There are several ways your child’s teacher will check to make sure your child really understands what the value of a number means. Their ideas may be very different than mine but if you try these ideas out your child will understand the basic concept. I thought I would give you a few quick ideas I use to check students understanding or qualifying in numbers and how to work on these skills. Here are three ideas I will be looking for when school starts from each child in my classroom:

  • Does your child understand the concepts of more, less and equal
  • Can your child count on or count all of a group
  • Can your child solve basic problems using 10 or less objects

Here are some quick ideas to try at home to ensure these three concepts:

More, less or equal to

  • We all know this one just takes practice. The more you show your child groups of objects and ask which one has more? Which has less? The better. Try to ask the fewer questions more often, it seems to be the harder of the two ideas for children to understand. Equal seems to be the easiest, since children like things to be fair, so don’t for get to throw in a couple of equal amounts every once in a while.

Counting on and counting all of a group

  • I covered a few ideas on ways to work on this concept in my last post. Please remember, counting on is a developmental skill and may not come to your child easily. Please don’t get frustrated or worried if your child does not seem to understand this concept. We will work on it throughout the school year. So go out there and count everything you can find, as often as you can.
  • Remember to try to get your child to pull the items away from the group as they count. This gives them a finished group at the end and helps them keep track of what they have already given a number to.
  • Teach your child to count backwards from ten to zero. You can also show them this concept by beginning with a group of ten objects and counting backwards as you take them away until your child is left with zero.

Solving basic problems

This sounds like teaching your child to add and subtract, and the truth is it is the beginning of teaching that skill. But I by no means want you to sit down and teach them addition and subtraction problems. I want them to begin to see groups or amounts of objects in a different way. The altogether part of these activities is very important. Here are a few quick ways to work on this skill:

  • Count their fingers! When you count fingers show them a different amount on each hand and then ask them how many fingers there are altogether?
  • Show them objects of two colors and classify them into groups and a whole. One idea I use in my classroom is with plastic beads. I may give them five beads. 3 will be green and 2 will be yellow. I want them to tell me you have 3 green, 2 yellow and 5 altogether.
  • Make number combinations. If you have a bowl of two different colors of plastic beads lay them out on the table in a pattern going up or down showing the number combinations. Ex: 0 green and 10 yellow, 1 green and 9 yellow, 2 green and 8 yellow, etc. And then talk about what they notice.
  • Make up subtraction type story problems. “You have three stuffed animals. I left two at grandma’s house. How many are here at home?”

Most importantly, make sure this seems like a game to your child. We want them to enjoy math and numbers. The concepts seem hard sometimes but it is important that they jump right in and try as hard as they can. Enjoy your Saturday!!!


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