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tangible math


Children may be able to recognize a number, and/or number sets, but to see if a child really understands the concept of what a number is, you need to provide an opportunity for the child to show you a number in a tangible, concrete way.

For example, throughout the day, I asked different children to perform “real life” tasks for me. Before lunch, I asked 5 children to set 5 napkins on the table I assigned to them. If they put 5 napkins at the table, I knew they understood what the number 5 meant. I asked other children to get 4 pencil crayons, or 7 markers for me while we were at the art centre. When the milk arrived, I asked some children to get 6 straws for me to hand out.

By asking children to do simple tasks that they would do in everyday, “real” life, and by assigning a number to that task, I can observe if the children truly understood that number.