Monday, July 14, 2008


Yes, beans. Dried beans are wonderful little counters to use with children old enough to trust not to stuff them up their noses, yet young enough to still need help cementing the thought that the number "3" actually stands for "three things."

Here's a little dialog:

You: how old are you?
Child: Six
You: You've been alive for six years! Wow!Let's see what six looks like. Count out six beans.

Guided by you, the child counts out six dried beans from a small pile.

You: That's how many years you are. How many is that?

And so on.

You can have the child count them again, and then you can really start playing with the concept of six. Leave the fisrt six beans out of the big pile. Take combinations of beans that number to six out of the pile. Ask the child what 3 beans and 3 beans makes. Compare it to the six in the first pile. Do 5 beans and 1 bean. Do "7 beans take away 1 bean" and so on.

Short lessons like this will help children to keep in mind that math is real, not just a bunch of symbols on a page. You can do it with socks when sorting laundry, grapes at lunch, blades of grass at big sister's soccer game.

Keep it real. Keep it fun.

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