#5 — Help Your Child Develop Number Sense With Number Sticks

Counting for Kids



In this post and on our website, www.pelicanfamily.com, we show a preschool age child counting beans attached to a number stick. (I usually use Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue when attaching things like this. It cleans up easily, is nontoxic, and holds really, really well. Remember, when you are using small objects with young children, you always have to watch out for swallowing dangers.)

In using these number sticks, this child is beginning to develop “number sense”. Number sense is the understanding of what numbers mean, to say it very simply. Early practice with counting and combining can lead to understanding of much more complex ideas later.

In our book, The Pelican Family Counting Book, children are counting the pelicans as they fly over the ocean. The number is written on the top of the page to help the child learn to recognize it. As the numbers increase, our illustrations can be used to show numbers combining in different ways. For instance, the illustration for 4 shows grouping of 2+2; 5 shows 4+1(or 2+2+1) on one page and 3+2 on another.

On our Activities Page on our website, we suggest some other ways you can help your children understand numbers. The use of number sticks is just one of many ways to give children number sense experiences. It gives the child something to touch while counting and the number is written on the top of the stick.

What can you and your child do with number sticks?

1. Count the number of objects to understand the number written at the top.

2. Use them for addition– 2+5 equal 7, etc.

3. If you use different colored popsicle sticks, as I did in the example, you can talk about even and odd numbers.

4. If you made multiple sticks with the same number, you could use them to understand multiplication — 3 number sticks that each had 4 beans on them would be 3×4. Your child could then count all of the beans on all 3 sticks to come up with 12.

5. Using number sticks with 10 beans glued and also loose beans can show the use of 10’s and ones and place value. In researching information I found this blog that shows this idea also.

Opportunities to help your child develop are everywhere. The Number Stick idea is just one way to help develop number sense.

We would love to hear if you have used this idea.


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