Step in Progression

Interaction Ideas

Precounting

Use whatever items the children are playing with to compare the size of sets without counting. Sometimes children will be able to compare sets by looking at them, but where the sets have a similar number of items they will need to pair items to find out which set has more.
Follow the comparisons with questions that ask children to describe their thinking:
Watch for:
Are the children able to identify which set has more/less by looking at the two sets? Can they match the items from two sets to see which has more/fewer? Note they do not need to be able to say how many there are to do this successfully.

Onetoone counting

As appropriate contexts arise, ask children to form a set of a certain number of items. Start with small sets of up to five items.
As opportunities present themselves ask children to count the number of items in a set.
Follow up counting with questions that ask children to describe their thinking:
Practice the counting sequence from any number, both forwards and backwards.
Watch for:
When children are counting do they say the standard list of counting words in order? Which parts of the sequence do they know? Which parts do they need help with?
When children are counting do they match each spoken number with one object? Do they move more than one object for spoken number? How do they coordinate spoken numbers with objects when counting?

Counting sets

Use opportunites that arise in play to ask children to count the number of items in sets. Focus on the total number of items.
Matching sets activities, such as:
Encourage children to use numbers to compare sets rather than matching items one to one. Extend their thinking with questions such as:
Follow up counting with questions that ask children to describe their thinking:
Develop children’s awareness of numerals around them, for example on the clock or the calendar:
Watch for:
Do children need to recount to tell you how many are in a set? For example “Can you count these teddies for me?” then, after they have counted, “How many teddies are there?”
Do children need to match one to one to make sets of the same size or can they use numbers to make the comparison?

Counting from one to solve number problems

Use everyday situations which involve joining and separating sets to develop children's ability to count to solve number problems. For example:
Ask follow up questions which encourage children to describe their thinking:
Watch for:
Do children use counting to solve everyday number problems? Can they reliably produce an accurate result?

Counting on to solve number problems

Incorporate counting into children’s play. Encourage children not to count the first set of items but to count on or back from the largest number to solve number problems. For example:
Ask follow up questions which encourage children to describe their thinking:
Watch for:
Do children start their counting from one, or can they count on or back from the largest number?

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