Though many young children can count from rote memory, learning one-to-one correspondence marks the point when a child realizes that he can match numbers with objects. Children often point or touch objects as they count, demonstrating their ability to recognize the meaning behind the number. Practicing one-to-one correspondence can be as simple as counting objects throughout your day, but practicing while playing games ensures that preschoolers have fun while they learn.
Make playtime math time when you practice one-to-one correspondence at your child's stuffed animal tea party. Encourage her to set the table with one cup, one plate and one set of silverware per guest, adding one cookie or snack during serving time. Count aloud together to reinforce the skills. Your preschooler may even enjoy setting the table for the family meal at least once a day, adding a lesson in responsibility proving that she really does need math in real life.
Every preschooler loves snack time, so let them prepare for this exciting part of their day while you practice math at the same time. Take a clean, empty egg carton or muffin tin and write on it the numbers 1 through 12, one per section. Choose a snack that comes in small pieces, such as crackers, grapes, cereal or nuts, and have your child count out enough pieces for each section according to the number. Children love preparing their own snack and can even continue practicing math as they count the pieces straight into their mouths at snack time.
Preschoolers love a good birthday celebration, so set up a "cake" and candles for a pretend birthday celebration while they practice their counting and one-to-one correspondence. Make the cake out of a wood circle with holes drilled into it to hold candles, and paint it to look like a cake. Buy a package of regular birthday candles or cut wooden dowel rods to fit the holes if you wish. Write the numbers 1 through 10 on a set of index cards. When it's time for the birthday party, let your child choose an age from the deck of cards and insert the appropriate number of candles into the holes, counting as she goes. Sing "Happy Birthday" and have fun blowing out the candles together before the next child's turn.
Combine one-to-one correspondence with gross motor activities in this counting and tossing game to keep antsy preschoolers interested. Write the numbers 1 through 10 on index cards, drawing the appropriate number of pictures on the card to match the number. Fill a basket with beanbags or rolled up socks, and place an empty basket a few feet away from children. Have each child choose a card, identify the number and choose that number of beanbags from the basket. Each child then tosses his beanbags one at a time to try to get them into the empty basket.
Continue taking turns choosing, counting and tossing, retrieving your beanbags after each turn or trying to fill up the basket. Children practice one-to-one correspondence as they see the pictures on the card that match the numbers, count the beanbags they need from the basket and count them again as they toss them toward the empty basket.
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