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The Importance of “One-to-One Correspondence” in Math

Although much of my professional focus is now on enhancing literacy skills, my blog posts will never neglect the importance of starting young students with solid math skills, as well. Last week I wrote about the importance of “one-to-one correspondence” in reading. One-to-one correspondence is very important to early math also. Basically, this concept means correctly matching numbers to objects.

Rote number counting, and knowing what that number represents, are two very different and distinct mathematical skills. A student can be an excellent counter, yet not be able to identify a random number out of numerical sequence. Or your child may be able to say the numeral 9, yet be unable to count-out nine objects.

Here are three easy and fun activities to help your child practice one-to-one correspondence in math:

  • In a dish, place a small amount of a favorite snack like Cheerios, raisins, Goldfish crackers, etc. Start a “roll for snacks” game by rolling a single die, and have your child counts the dots. He can then count out and save an equal number of pieces from the snack dish. (Who knew that counting could be so yummy?) To increase the difficulty, use a pair of dice, and add the dots before counting the total. If the snacks build up, they can be saved and enjoyed later on.
  • From a deck of playing cards, remove 10 “number cards” (2-10) from the same suit. Let the “Ace” from that suit represent the number 1. Line up the cards from left-to-right, the Ace to ten. Below the cards, have her place the correct number of pennies shown on the card.  Once she can easily do this from one to 10, mix up the cards and place them out of sequence. Practice this until she can match the pennies to the individual numbers shown on the cards, no matter what the sequence.
  • Put a pile of 20 pennies on a table. Say a number out loud between 1 and 20. See if your child can count out the number of pennies that you said. If he can’t do it by himself, help him count out the correct amount. Have him put the pennies in a straight line, pointing to each penny, as he counts in sequence.

Practicing math one-to-one correspondence, while having a little fun, will help your child make the connection between seeing, saying, and knowing.

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