Watch an adult and the child reading a book; or alternatively, suggest to the child that you play cars or dolls.
Ask the child to show you the first page of the book. Do not give any cues or assistance. Set some cars or dolls in a row and say, “I’ll take the first car. Can you give me the first one? Now it’s your turn to choose. Which one do you want?” You can also try to see if the child knows the concept of “second” in the same way.
The child will be able to select the first in a sequence of items. Many children can select the second or last.
Learning ordinals or rank ordering is an important math concept. Children learn this first with visual spatial relations and size sequences and later with more abstract concepts such as time sequences and story event sequences. Encourage early childhood educators and parents to use the term “first,” “second,” and “last” with the child.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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