I just threw a baby shower for a friend yesterday and it is always a guessing game to estimate how many cards to get for the games, how many petifors, etc. Then there are games where we estimate how many jellybeans there are in a jar, how much toilet paper it would take to wrap around the pregnant woman’s belly, etc.

There are plenty of practical ways we use our estimation skills to problem solve. And that is exactly what we want to start instilling in our kids…problem solving skills.

So in order to work with your child on the beginning concepts of estimating, it is important to understand that until the age of 7 or so children have a hard time developing spatial skills. This means that they might count out objects, place them into a jar, and then estimate a different number because the number may look greater or less than the number they just counted, depending on how it is arranged. So understand that the activity we are talking about today is more of a READINESS activity than a formal lesson.

Remember that estimation is just the very best guess we can make based on our evidence.

As discussed in the previous math post, “Number Sense,” children have to be taught that a number represents a quantity. When we think about things that come in 4’s we can picture four square, a four-leaf clover, four angles and sides in a square, and other mental pictures as well. Children don’t have the chance to “picture” anything until we teach them.

So today, we are going make a special book for each number. That is, this is the activity for today, but I am hoping that you will devote a book to each number, 1-10, over the next 10 days because it will exhaust your child’s attention span to work on all 10 numbers today.

Developmentally, young children can not grasp that a number stays the same when you re-arrange the amount spatially. But, if you want to help them see a number represented in many ways in a book, made with their own hands, this will be a fun place to start.

To prepare:

Grab some paper….I’m not fancy….use what you have: printer paper, loose leaf, construction, you get the picture. Fold them in half.

You will also need Markers, crayons, colored pencils.

Finally, grab something they can manipulate. It can even be snacks like goldfish. I grabbed paper clips simply because it was sitting on my desk. Like I said, I’m not fancy.

1. Get excited with your child as you ask them to make a number book with you. “Let’s make a book for the numbers we like to count! What number do you want to make a book for first?” (Choice is an incentive for most children).

2. After your child has picked a number write it on the front of a folded piece of paper. If you really want to let them let loose, tell them to write the number a many times as they want on the front cover to “decorate” for you.

3. Ask them to help you count “that many” objects for your book.

4. On the left side of the book let them arrange the objects however they want, and then ask them to “record” or write it down exactly the way they arrange it “so that we will remember what it looks like” and then allow them to do that for each page with as many different creations as they come up with. Staple their book and make sure their name is on the cover 🙂

In my last Math post “Number Fun” I talked about some of the attributes of numbers that children need to learn. I mentioned that children need to learn that each number has a quantity; most children can count to a number but have no idea what the number represents.

When we think of a number, we can picture the number itself in our minds, we can picture where the number stands on a number line, what numbers are greater or smaller than the number, and we can picture all the different ways that number amount could be rearranged spatially. It takes a lot of repetition and hands-on experience to store a repertoire of number concepts into a memory. So get busy!!!!

If your child still doesn’t know their number names “1, 2, 3 4….”, up to 10, out of order, then they may not be ready to learn the number amount yet. Master the basics first.

Here is a number activity for your child to practice counting one object at a time in a set group of objects and identify the number they counted. Ask them to count each group of objects and find the number to draw a line from the amount to the number.

Simplicity is underestimated…but today, i have some simple math measures for you to take.

When it comes to numbers, you want your child to store away those number images in their minds; you want him/her to visualize the numbers when they are counting and not just saying the number words when counting. One of the simplest ways to help him/her in this process is to read counting books to your child. Ask him/her questions about the number…”What does this number look like?” -number one a fishing pole, number two has a candy cane in it, etc. These associations help your child to recall the number by visualizing it in many ways.

Another way kids store things into their memory for easy recall is HANDS-ON learning. This is probably the most advocated form of teaching young children, and for good reason.
So, one way you can create a hands-on activity using things around your house is to make a word document of numbers. Blow them up to whatever size you like (I chose 500 of the font “Color Font”). Then print, cut out, and trace onto a thick paper type (I chose a marker box because it was what was in front of me at the moment), but you could also use: cardstock, a file folder, sandpaper—great for texture, or something that you would recycle like a cereal box. Cut the number out, put a piece of paper over it, and then let your child color over the number until it appears.

Children also need to learn to visualize a number amount for each number, but I will talk more about this in my next math post, and of course, provide an activity 🙂
As always, HAVE FUN!