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April 20, 2022 / Blog

Pre-K Counting in the Classroom and Beyond

Math skills are vital for future success in academics and life – and pre-K counting skills build a foundation for later math learning. Children begin to recognize and identify numbers at a young age, but counting is more than repeating memorized sequences or identifying numerals.

Counting involves applying three essential skills at the same time:

  • Rote counting – saying the sequence of counting words
  • One-to-one correspondence – matching the verbal counting to each object that is touched
  • Cardinality – remembering the last word said when counting tells how many are in the set

Counting Goals for Preschoolers

Guidelines may differ by state but in general, pre-K counting goals include achievements in meaningful counting (as outlined above) up to 10 and rote counting up to 30.

Some common pre-K counting goals are:

  • Reciting their counting in sequence: One, two, three, etc.
  • Keeping track of objects that have already been counted
  • Knowing “how many” after counting objects
  • Understanding terms such as more, less, take away, add, and equals.

It’s also important to make sure children feel safe to make mistakes to keep the learning experience fun and successful.

Pre-K Counting Fun is as Easy as 1 … 2 … 3!

Children learn best when they feel safe and are having fun. You don’t need worksheets – incorporate counting into playtime, when reading books, and by making environmental observations. “How many people live in your home? Let’s count!” “Count how many blocks we can stack before it falls down!”

Other counting activity suggestions:

  • Recite counting songs and rhymes, such as “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.”
  • Line up dominos by matching the dots.
  • Use sidewalk chalk to draw a square with a number in it along with dots to match the number (number 3 and 3 dots) and have children collect fallen leaves to match.
  • Count your food – how many cereal pieces? How many apple slices?
  • Count the number of trees in the yard, cars in a parking lot, dogs on a walk.

Counting Beyond the Classroom

Families can keep counting fun beyond the classroom with shared learning experiences – just as we encourage shared reading at home, we can encourage shared counting!

Math may be a term that feels intimidating for caregivers because of their own early learning experiences, but counting is a great stepping-stone for encouraging family engagement at home. Research shows caregiver engagement in education improves learning and strengthens academic and lifelong success.

Families can find songs, videos, activities and more online at sites like PBS. Or use daily activities as a source of counting opportunities: “We need to put 3 eggs in the batter; help me count them … 1 … 2 … 3!” “There are 10 steps to go up, let’s count them as we go!”

If you are interested in learning about the Frog Street curriculums and how they help young children learning math and counting, check us out here.