This year Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown was selected as the One Book 4 Colorado winner, and I just knew I needed a fun flannel that incorporated counting and dogs to go with it!

I also wanted to really focus on building number sense, which requires something a little more versatile than your typical counting down rhyme. Number sense is a complex group of many skills that children need to understand and work with numbers. Strong number sense makes problem-solving, measurement, and even geometry much easier! Not only is number sense foundational to almost all mathematical concepts and operations, it’s also the key to making math *meaningful*.

A good test of a child’s mathematical understanding is to see if they can transfer that knowledge to other contexts. For example, if a child can count that there are 4 people in his or her family, but only thinks 3 plates are needed for dinner, there’s a gap in their knowledge. Another example would be if you count 5 green and speckled frogs on a flannelboard, then ask the children to show you 5 fingers… and they hold up a random number!

Number sense includes:

- Understanding that quantities can be counted and represented
- Verbally counting forward and backward
- While counting, keeping track of each object counted and saying one number for each object (one to one correspondence)
- Knowing how many objects are in a group just counted (cardinality)
- Knowing how many of something without counting (subitizing)
- Comparing numbers and quantities to determine which has more/less (magnitude)
- Recognizing the number of objects in a set remains the same regardless of physical arrangement (number conservation)

There are many ways for families to build math into everyday moments, and likewise many ways we can (and should) incorporate early math skills into storytime. In the Center for Childhood Creativity‘s recent research review and position paper on Reimaginging School Readiness, they discovered that:

“Demonstrating strong math skills at an early age is a strong indicator of developing conceptual thinking skills and predicts longterm success in school, not just in later math learning but also in later reading proficiency… Interestingly, the inverse is not true: children’s foundational literacy predicts long-term proficiency with reading

but is not correlated to long-term achievement in mathematics.”

When I made my bones, I made sure to include different sizes and colors. Each set had 5 brown and 5 white bones, with 1 noticeably bigger and 1 noticeably smaller than the rest. Here are some different things to discuss, depending on the age group of your kiddos:

- How many bones do you think there are, just by looking?
- Let’s count how many bones are on the board! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
- After counting together, ask how many bones did we just count?
- Can you show me 5 with your fingers?
- Which bone is the biggest? Which bone is the smallest?
- How many white bones do we have? How many brown bones?
- Do we have more white bones, or more brown bones?
- What if two dogs want to share the bones? How many bones would go in each pile?

And here’s a fun rhyme to use with a dog puppet! Instead of eating one bone each time, ask the children for suggestions, e.g. ”My dog is REALLY hungry (or REALLY full)… how many bones should he eat?” Have them help you count as your dog eats the bones on the board. Ask “Now how many are left?”

5 juicy dog bones, oh, what a treat!

5 juicy dog bones, how many should I eat?

These concepts were so much to apply with the kiddos and I can’t wait to apply the same principles to more sets!

Hi Jessica,

I loved this article about early learnings and math.

I am a former early childhood teacher as well and at the moment I am working with the state library as a literacy specialist.

I will like to get in touch with you to share some ideas!

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Thanks Pamela! I just sent you an email! 🙂

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