Q&A #1771

Number concept

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From: Marielouise (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 16, 1999 at 21:39:06
Subject: Re: Number concept

I have once worked with pre-school, three and four year old children. I have
also raised five children of my own.  It is miraculous how they are able to
associate a seemingly random symbol 5 with the number of fingers on each of
their hands and the number of toes on each of their feet.

Perhaps you might indirectly teach your students some of the ancient
numeration systems.  In these systems one stick represent one of something,
two sticks represented two of something, three sticks represented three of
something, and so on.  There was a need to get an aggregate symbol after
awhile because it was difficult to perceive the difference between eight
sticks and nine sticks without organizing them.  If you ask children to find
for themselves or make up a symbol to represent groups with the same number
of objects; for example, five pencils, five coins, five stones, most will
eventually see the relationship between the number of objects and the symbol
chosen to represent them.

I think that children have to associate our Hindu-Arabic numerical system
over and over again to different aggregates of objects before they understand
what a symbol represents.  Think about this.  Certainly, check out the
sites referenced in Suzanne's reply.

 -Marielouise, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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