These activities are typically done at the beginning of the Kindergarten school year to ensure the child understand the concept before moving on in math.
Counting Counters for Number Conservation
Materials: Blue and red counters, or other math manipulatives.
- Put 5 red counters in a line. Directly below the red counters, line up 5 blue counters.
- Help the child to count the red counters, pointing to each red counter as the child counts outloud. When the child is finished say, "Yes, five. There are five red counters," to reinforce the total number of red counters.
- Help the child to count the blue counters, pointing to each blue counter as the child counts aloud. When the child is finished say, "Yes, five. There are five blue counters," to reinforce the total number of blue counters.
- Talk to the child about both groups of counters having the same number.
- Now, space the blue group of counters wider apart. Ask the child if both groups still have the same number. If the child does not understand that both groups still have five counters. Count with the child to show them that the spacing does not change the total number in each group.
- Repeat this game often beginning with various groups of numbers, for example, start with 2 groups of 4 chips or 2 groups of 3 chips. Arrange the groups in similar patterns and then space the blue chips farther apart. Each time asking the child if there are more blue chips, or the same number.
Drawing Circles to Teach Conservation of a Number
Materials: Paper and Pencil
- Begin by drawing 2 groups of 4 circles on a sheet of paper. Draw the first group going down. Draw the second group going accross.
- Point to the first group of circles and ask, "How many circles does this group have?" Write the number by the group if the child answers correctly. If the child does not answer correctly, help the child count the circles.
- Point to the second group of circles. Ask the child, "How many cirlces does this group have?" Write the number given by the group or help counted, if needed.
- Direct the child to the number written by each group. Explain that each group, regardless of placement, has the same number.
Repeat the activities above as many times as necessary until the child develops a clear understanding of conservation of a number (the number of items in a group stays the same regardless of placement). If the child struggles, try the activities with a smaller number of objects (two or three) then move up to groups of five objects. Once a child has mastered the concept of number conservation, the child is ready to move on to "one to one correspondence," also known as "counting with meaning." To learn more about teaching one to one correspondence, see more by this author below.
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