Does your child like to tell people
how old he is? Sometimes he may even show his age by holding up a
finger for each year. Your child’s age is one number he knows
very well. For this reason, it is a great number to use in helping
him understand what numbers are and the different ways in which you
can represent them.
Learning to count is something kids
learn very early in life. Counting concrete objects one by one, and
assigning just one number to each object as you count—known as
one-to-one correspondence—is a little harder for kids to grasp,
but is an important skill to learn. Kids also need to understand that
numbers can be represented in many ways—as a numeral, as a
word, as a group of objects, and even as an age. Kids as young as
preschool-age can be introduced to the concept of operations, which
is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Numbers and counting
3-6 year olds
How Many Ways Old Are You?
Take It Further
Ask your child to use his fingers to
show you how old he is. For example, if he is seven years old, he may
hold up five fingers on one hand and two on the other. Ask him to
count his fingers one by one, saying, “I am 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 years
old!” Then ask, “How many fingers did you hold up on one
hand, and how many did you hold up on the other hand?” You are
now introducing your child to the concept of addition, showing him
that a number can be broken into two parts, in this case a “five”
and a “two.”
- Pennies or other small objects
How to Do It:
Tell your child that, besides using
his fingers, you are going to show him more ways to show his age.
(The following activities continue using the age seven as an example,
but you can substitute your child’s age.)
- Find seven
objects of a particular color or shape. For example, seven square
objects or seven red objects.
- Look for the
number seven on objects inside or outside the house (e.g. on a
clock, in a newspaper or magazine, a license plate, a road sign,
- Cut out seven
objects from a magazine and paste them onto a piece of paper, and
write the number seven next to them—both as a numeral and as a
- Count out seven pennies or other small objects.
- Divide a group
of pennies into two groups that add up to seven (e.g., one group of
four and one group of three). Ask your child, “How many other
ways can you divide the group of pennies?”
- Roll a pair of
dice and see how many times the two dice add up to seven.
- Go through a
deck of cards with your child, and see how many combinations of
cards will add up to seven.
- Ask your child,
“Can you think of any other ways to show me your age?”
Ask your child how
old he will be next year. How old will he be in another two years?
How about in another three years? Help him figure this out by
counting out the same number of pennies as his age. Then add a penny,
add two pennies, and add three pennies. Each time you add a penny,
ask your child to count the pennies.
Play the Do You See My Seahorse? game on PBS KIDS
Quack and Count by Keith Baker
12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam; illustrated by Bernie Karlin
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins