Thursday, June 6, 2013

Counting Cookies

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Counting and number learning are ubiquitous in preschool education because it is a simple achievable way to learn about the world. Along with learning names, shapes and colors, numbers and counting allow preschoolers to communicate their wants and share the delight of their discoveries in more meaningful ways. "I want one, two, three pieces of chocolate," is often heard in my house. Observations made from the back seat of my car approximate this: "I see two backhoe loaders, a dump truck and three excavators."

One of the best things about counting is that preschoolers don't need toys to do it. They can count their fingers and toes, their food, their clothes, anything they can observe - you name it (or let them)! For preschool engineers the pattern of counting is most likely the coolest thing about numbers.

Rote counting began early in our house because of Brent Holmes' song titled "A Moose in a Treehouse." The tune was snappy, easy for me to learn and sing without much difficulty, and the topic was about cookies and counting...two things to which Mikey could easily relate. I was pleased until I overheard Mikey counting by ones to twelve and then continuing by twos to twenty four. He had synthesized two verses, which was awesome, but counting past twelve was just plain wrong. To nip this apparent problem in the bud, I got permission from Brent Holmes to use his song in a YouTube video where I depict numbers and their quantities:

Feel free to watch "Moose Multiplication" as much as you want for free. In fact, you can hear a lot of Brent's songs for free on YouTube. If you want something more portable, say for your car, then check out all his CDs available for sale on Amazon. We have Moose Tunes, Bear Tunes, and Sea Tunes and love them all. If you just want the songs about counting and multiplication then surf over to the Amazon List I made called "Brent Holmes Counts."


If it isn't the pattern that a preschool engineer loves about numbers then it might be the hilarity of counting backwards before a rocket launch. Whether the child swings while holding his parents hands, launches from the top of a slide or rides his bike down a hill, the "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ignition!" is sure to please. In fact, Curious George does backwards counting and much much more throughout his PBS adventures. He learns how to count past ten, what zero represents when it is by itself "0" as opposed to when it is added to the end of a number like "10" or "100." You can search for specific episodes or hit up my List on Amazon: Curious George Learns Counting and Numbers.

No preschooler's education would be complete without some books. Like Curious George Counting and Numbers books offer different ways to see the patterns and relate the symbols "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9..." and words "one, two, three..."

Lastly, this one is for you...the adult in preschool engineering adventures. It is an old article from the NY Times that I just love for preschool math. When I read it the first time I laughed at how it blew my mind. It is "From Fish to Infinity" by Steven Strogatz. Be sure to go to the Times website because there is a Sesame Street video to watch!
The best introduction to numbers I’ve ever seen — the clearest and funniest explanation of what they are and why we need them — appears in a “Sesame Street” video called “123 Count With Me.” Humphrey, an amiable but dim-witted fellow with pink fur and a green nose, is working the lunch shift at The Furry Arms hotel, when he takes a call from a room full of penguins. Humphrey listens carefully and then calls out their order to the kitchen: “Fish, fish, fish, fish, fish, fish.” This prompts Ernie to enlighten him about the virtues of the number six. 

Whether it is the pattern of counting or the utility of numbers, a preschool engineer will undoubtably recognize the importance of math. Find fun ways to see the world and count the world with your little person.

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