Number Recognition and Counting On with Lego

Math Activities for PreschoolersThis week for maths I introduced the concept of counting on. Counting on is a computational strategy; for example if you wanted to add 5 and 3 you would take the largest number (5) and count on (5) 6,7,8, giving you the answer 8.

It is a challenging skill, being able to count on and backwards from any point rather than always starting at one, but with some hands-on exploration and patience, Jack is beginning to understand.

I think it is important to give children several opportunities to practice a skill so we have been working on this one concept for most of this week and will probably continue to work on it next week too.

Sarah is working on recognising 1-10 as well as quantifying (making sets of different numeric value, e.g. 5 = 5 blocks). She is able to recognise numbers to 5 and then gets a little muddled up after that. We’ll be reinforcing this more next week too.

The Lessons

We started out rolling some dice and saying the number. Then we rolled the dice and said the number which came after that number. This introduced the idea of counting on.

After the dice game, Jack and Sarah worked with the materials.

For quantifying and number recognition, Sarah had:

  • number cards – from So Awesome
  • small wooden numbers – from a discount store
  • Lego pieces
  • a transparent container for the wooden numbers
  • a wooden compartment tray for the Lego pieces
  • a work mat

For counting on and reinforcing number words, Jack had:

  • circle number cards – I made these using red for odd numbers, blue for even numbers and yellow for tens. They have the numeral on one side and the word on the other.
  • square number cards making a number line – I made these from an old 1-100 poster.
  • Lego pieces
  • a wooden compartment tray for the Lego pieces
  • a work mat

Exploring the concept

Quantifying with Lego for Preschoolers - An Everyday StoryFor Sarah I set out the number cards 1-10.

  • Using the container of wooden numbers, Sarah matched the wooden number to the number card
  • Using the Lego pieces, Sarah built Lego towers for each numeral

Counting On Activities {An Everyday Story Counting On Activities for Kindergarteners {An Everyday Story}For Jack I gave him each of the materials.

  • He set out the number line from 1-10
  • Using the circle number cards, Jack decoded the words using the first and last letter. He lined these up in order
  • Jack created a Lego tower for each number and placed them on the number word
  • Using the dice, Jack rolled two numbers
  • Deciding on the larger number, Jack placed that Lego tower on the number line
  • He chose the Lego tower for the second number
  • Pulling the Lego tower apart, he counted on, adding a brick to each number card
  • The final Lego brick gave Jack the answer

We reinforced these concepts several times more over the week. Next week I have plans to use our Spielgaben set to work on it some more.

6 Replies to “Number Recognition and Counting On with Lego”

  1. lydia purple says:

    great ideas. my 4yo daughter is in preschool and they don’t teach math except for counting the children every morning and having some number charts in the drawing area. about two months ago she played at home with our number cards, layed them out in the right order, also matching them up with shape cards according to how many corners the shape has (circle -0, triangle -3,…). she new to count in 3 different languages because we are in a multilingual community and she started to match up the numbers, counting first in hebrew, than in english to figure out which is which, she is also reading the clock ( full hours only), can write most numbers without an example in front of her, now she started adding up numbers by herself… one day she just sat there saying ‘mom, 2 and 2 is 4 right?’ nobody taught her! sensitive math period, i’d say. she figured it out only by counting regularly actual things (kids in preschool) that gave the number an actual physical value. i know that this is her reference point, she knows one is one child, ten is ten children, because when she gets confused, she’ll always start over and count until she figures out what number is in front of her.

    i was already thinking of some ideas to challenge her further, so your post was really helpful. actually, everytime i come here my desire to homeschool grows…

    1. I’d say you might be right! Sensitive period for maths indeed! I remember when Jack started doing sums out loud like that. So I found my old school calculator and gave that to him to play with. Well, didn’t he just LOVE that! Your daughter might do too.

      Jack used to count from beginning too when he was adding or trying to find a number which is why the counting on was a challenge at first but he is enjoying it. He will often count on his fingers now. He knows that one hand has five fingers so he can count on from there. I love watching them learn like that on their own.

      Are you still deciding on whether to homeschool or not for kindergarten?

  2. Thanks for sharing with Tuesday Tots. I’ve featured this post this week 🙂

    1. Thanks Debs

  3. Veronika Hortt says:

    So glad you posted the details of this lesson. I am working on this with my son and I was trying to figure out fun ways to work on it with him. This is perfect. THANK YOU!!

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