Have a box, such as a tissue box with a large opening and several interesting, but like objects (3 of the same ball, three of the same small blocks, etc.)
Start with one object. Put it in the box and then put the box in front of the child. See if the child spontaneously takes out the object and doesn’t look for more. Put 1-3 objects into a box or container and ask the child to take them out. Watch if the child stops searching after the number put in have been removed.
The child will observe the balls as they are put in the box and know how many to search for. She will stop searching when the correct number has been retrieved. The adult can also remove a ball and see if the child remembers if any are left.
Understanding numbers requires the ability to track objects, remember what parts of a set, and recreate the set. Children start learning this with one object, by searching for something they want, but can no longer see. Encourage early childhood educators and parents to do search-and-find games with the child with 1-3 objects. These games reinforce memory and object permanence and also help children develop understanding of early addition and subtraction.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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