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: 36-42 Months

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Keeps one-to-one correspondence of from 3 to 5 items, but doesn’t know “how many in total”

Situations for Observation of Skill

During dramatic play or any daily routine where multiple objects are involved the adult can ask the child to count the objects in a set and then ask how many there are altogether.

Elicitation Strategy

For example, if a child is playing with small cars and trucks, the adult can say, “Wow you have a lot vehicles there! How many do you have?” Once the child has counted the objects, the adult should ask, “How many do you have altogether?”

Behavior Observed

If the child states that the total amount is the last number she counted, she is demonstrating understanding of cardinality.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Early childhood educators can explain to parents how children come to understand numbers. Parents may not understand that just because their child can count objects doesn’t mean she knows how many objects she has. This requires that the child understands that the last number counted in a set is the total amount.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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