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Counting and Cardinality
Counting and cardinality are an integral part of the mathematical concepts children develop and use in their early years of schooling. Children approach counting with a variety of strategies and varying degrees of accuracy as they begin to make sense of number. These differences of strategies and the level of their skill development in counting are valuable indicators of their growth in mathematical understanding.

The following key points can be made about counting and cardinality in the primary years:
  • Counting includes two meanings: to recite a series of numbers (1,2,3,…) in the correct order, and to determine a quantity.
  • In their first experiences with counting, children do not initially understand the connection between a quantity and the number name and symbol that represent it.
  • The last number of the count of a set of objects actually represents the number of objects in the set is cardinality
  • Counting is a powerful early tool intricately connected with the future development of students’ conceptual understanding of quantity, place value, and the operations.

Experiences with Counting
Providing ample opportunities for children to count a variety of collections helps children to learn to trust the number. Often, as children are developing these early concepts, they do not initially believe that the last number said when counting objects once, and only once, is always going to be that amount. Children need to trust the count.
Below are some activities to help your child develop counting and cardinality
Model strategies that help your child keep track of his or her count (e.g., touching each object and moving it as it is counted);
  • Take advantage of every day counting opportunities (setting the table, taking inventory of collections, counting the blocks on a hopscotch grid, etc.)
  • Ask questions such as, How do you know you have enough? Which group is bigger? Which group has the most or the least?
  • Play board games. Moving the pieces around a game board helps reinforce the connection between the quantity, number and symbol as well as reinforce the sequence of the count and one-one correspondence (that each number said matches each object counted).
  • As children develop, they move from counting all ( counting a known quantity from the beginning when asked to combine it with another quantity) to counting on (using the known quantity and counting on the unknown quantity)

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