North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Mathematical Thinking and Expression

Goal: Children show understanding of numbers and quantities during play and other activities

Skill Progression: Counting

Age: 54-60 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 54-60 Months.

Knows the number before and the number after a number but has to count from 1 to figure it out

Situations for Observation of Skill

Magic card tricks. Prior to the activity remove the face cards from several decks of cards and divide the rest into suits, so you have four sets of 1-10 cards for each deck of cards. Divide children into pairs and give each pair of children a set of the 10 shuffled cards. Explain that they all get to learn magic tricks with numbers to perform for their parents or friends. The adult should demonstrate the trick first without explaining what she is doing. This way the children will think it is a real trick and understand how their parent will be amazed. Then explain how to do the tricks before the children do them, using a child for an assistant. Card trick one: Remind the children that the cards are in order, so the magic involves knowing what number comes before or after the card drawn.

Elicitation Strategy

Card trick one: 1) First have each pair of children turn their cards face down and count them. See what total they get. 2) Have the pairs turn the cards over and arrange them in order from 1-10. Cards are then turned over face down in a pile. 3) Have each team select who will be the “magician” first. The magician spreads the cards out in front of her on the table in order (they can overlap some). The magician’s assistant then chooses a card and lays it face up. The magician then concentrates and performs a magic movement or phrase and says, “The card just before this card is a …!” The assistant turns over the card, if the magician is correct, the assist applauds wildly and cheers! (If incorrect, the assistant can take a guess.) The magician announces, “The card after this card is a….” The assistant turns it over, etc. Return cards to the pile in the right sequence. After several tries, the roles are reversed.

Behavior Observed

The child knows the number before and the number after a number. May need to count from 1 to figure it out.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

This is a great trick to teach children to do with their parents. Ask the parents for a deck of cards, if available in the home. If not, tell the children they can make cards by cutting pieces of paper and writing the numbers from 1-10 on them. Tell them to arrange their cards without their parents seeing. This way their parents will be really surprised when they know the right number. Tell them to practice before they do it for their parents, so they know they will pick the right numbers. Parents will love this activity!

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit