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This post has been co-written with Ben Wolfson, a full-time educator and assistant principal in the USA.
There’s always a fascination in your preschool classroom around construction vehicles, and there can be many different reasons for this. Part of the interest is that they’re big and loud, while part of it is that they have additional function to the regular cars and trucks that your students experience on a regular basis. In either case, you’ll always find success with a bucket of diggers and bulldozers in your free play rotations, and tying construction vehicles into your academics will boost engagement all year long. These construction counting mats are a great way to develop their ability with counting with 1:1 correspondence, an essential preschool and kindergarten skill.
The Importance Of 1:1 Correspondence
Most of your students will come into your classroom knowing a lot (if not all) of the counting words up to ten. It’s your job for the year to help them match those numbers to their physical representations (e.g. being able to see a group of seven objects and being able to accurately count seven objects). As with all early mathematical skills, repetition is key, but also is finding different ways to represent the skill. Counting with ten frames is widely seen as best practice when it comes to counting with 1:1 correspondence because it allows students to visualize patterns in the numbers 1 to 10. This construction theme counting activity allows you to focus on one number at a time as well as seeing all the ten frames together to talk about number pairs and patterns.
Preparing Your Counting On to 20 Math Clip Cards
Teaching With Construction Counting Mats
The concept behind this construction theme counting activity is simple. You’ll need to head outside with your students to find some small pebbles or stones (in keeping with the construction theme), and then use these or some building blocks or Legos to complete the counting frames. As your students master their counting with 1:1 correspondence, try some of these counting with ten frames extension activities:
Use toy vehicles – for students who are struggling with counting with 1:1 correspondence, it’s often a question of having them slow down so that they touch and talk with each number. A fun way to build this skill is to give the student a toy excavator and have them move each stone one by one. This slows the process down so that they can’t rush through the counting words.
Order the cards – once they’re comfortable with counting with ten frames, you can use this familiarity to talk about the magnitude of numbers. Put three construction counting mats next to each other and have students put them in size order. Make sure they explain their thinking as they sort the cards.
Fix the error – error analysis is an excellent tool for gauging student understanding. You can start simply by giving students a card with the wrong number of pebbles and asking them to fix it. A more extensive challenge is to give students multiple construction counting mats but only make some of them have errors. Your students then have to check each one systematically to find the error.