When I began looking into how to teach Bebop math, I expected to start with a pencil and paper writing down simple equations. I was surprised at how many critical math skills could be taught and developed long before traditional schooling begins. Using a Montessori inspired approach, Bebop and I have been slowly counting to 100, incorporating eight early learning skills into one activity.
I created two free printables: number mats and number word cards. I have Bebop work exclusively with unifix cubes right now. He places one cube for each number on the mat in two columns as he counts. At 10, the cubes are stacked in a “tower” and the counting continues. The placement of the cubes is very important to reinforce all the concepts I want him to learn.
I recommend printing on card stock or laminating (or both) for durability.
I have just started teaching Magoo number recognition and amounts using the number mats. He is not yet ready for the other skills, but often mimics what he sees his big brother doing. I do not think this activity is typical or appropriate for most two year olds, but Magoo really wants to do the same things as his big brother.
1 – Number Recognition
I have just started teaching Magoo the numbers. On Monday, I set out three number mats on a tray and introduced them one at a time. I had Magoo repeat the number back to me. When he is able to identify 1, 2, and 3 we will move onto the next three numbers.
2 – Amounts
Magoo understands 1 and 2 as amounts. If I ask him for one napkin he knows to bring only one. If I ask him to get two cars, he knows one for each hand. Any other number and he brings as many as he can carry. After introducing the numeral, I used small manipulatives (hearts this week) to make the applicable grouping. Then I had Magoo make each grouping. As he understands the numbers as amounts, we’ll continue in introducing groupings three at a time.
The dump truck moved the hearts for us as we were counting.
3 – 1:1 Correspondence
This is the next skill I will introduce to Magoo to make the connection between the number (name) and value (amount). As we count, I have the boys place a unifix cube (or other manipulative) on the number mat to represent each number.
4 – Sequencing
Bebop can count to 29 and put the number mats in the correct order easily. With 30 and beyond he gets a little mixed up on the order. Sometimes we use the number mats alone to practice the correct sequence.
5 – Odd and Even
The unifix cubes are placed in two columns evenly so that even numbers all have a partner and odd numbers do not. Bebop is able to tell odd and even visually after counting out each number.
6 – Place Value
We are currently working very hard on understanding place value. After counting and making the towers of 10’s, I point out how the number of towers corresponds to the 10’s place. One of these days it will click.
7 – Patterns
Initially I did not expect this exercise to have a pattern element to it, but in the last two weeks Bebop has made patterns with the numbers.
8 – Number Words
When Bebop started reading 6 months ago, I made a set of number word cards for him to learn.
Bebop wanted to demonstrate how to count so other kids can learn. It took Bebop about 10 minutes to count out all the cubes from 8 to 12. I sped up the middle portion of the video while he was working. I do ask him a few questions at the end. Enjoy!
As you can see in the video, Bebop is at the point where he counts out each block and then builds towers for the 10’s. His thinking of numbers is very concrete. When he understands the tower represents 10 without having to count out all 10 cubes, his thinking will start transitioning to thinking about numbers in an abstract way.
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