I recently attended a presentation on Teaching Math To Preschoolers, organized by our school district’s Preschool Parents Club. The speakers provided lots of ideas for integrating math into the lives of 3 -5 year olds, and one of the main points was this: Count! Count! Count! Count everything, all the time, and those numbers will sink in before you know it. As you can imagine, I bought into the count-count-count philosophy years ago so our kids are pretty much mad-counters at this point.  Today I want to share a counting game we’ve played a lot lately.

We often hold up our fingers to show how many items we are talking about. How many different ways can you show a number using the fingers on one hand? That’s the challenge I presented Ramona while we waited in the car at the bus stop. We started with the number 2. Well, there’s the obvious:
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But how about this:
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Or this?:
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Moving on to number 3:
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I have a soft spot in my heart for chubby, clumsy fingers. Some of these are pretty tricky for little hands. What good practice for improving finger dexterity though, don’t you think? The bus came before we got to 1, 4 or 5, so we tried some of those combinations at dinner (sorry, no pictures!).

When working with a preschooler, one-hand combinations are enough. For older kids, how about using both hands? How many different ways can you form the number 3 using the fingers on both hands? How about all the other numbers? See if your (older) kids can figure this out. With so many possibilities, how can you keep track of the combinations?

I am excited to let you know that my friend Jill’s son already figured out this problem. He devised a method where he assigned each finger a number, then worked out each finger combination and removed any duplicates to come up with an answer. She took a picture of his work so I hope she doesn’t mind if I share it with you:
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And guess what, Jill told me they did this at the dinner table. I just love spontaneous math lessons. Thanks Jill for sharing! π



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