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Kids who count the wrong number of objects without noticing their mistake have yet to develop the important skill of one to one correspondence.

The definition of one to one correspondence is the knowledge that only one item is to be counted for each number that you say. To put it another way, each item in a group of items is only to be counted once.

Because children learn the counting sequence orally before they learn one to one correspondence, kids often over count objects. They're saying the numbers faster than they're registering the actual quantity in the set.

To solve this problem, we use the simple one to one correspondence definition as a reminder to kids: Touch one, count one.

A very engaging way to practice one to one correspondence is through this phone number activity for preschoolers and kindergartners.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Here is what you'll need to play and start developing one to one correspondence:

Dot stickers are a wonderful tool for developing one to one correspondence because peeling the sticker will

slow down your child's counting. As they peel each sticker, they should only count one number more in the sequence.

Is your child having trouble peeling the stickers? Remove the white backing from the page and it'll be MUCH easier!

How to Teach One to One Correspondence with Phone Number Activities:

Dot Sticker Phone Number Activities

Phone number with dot stickers on each number

One to one correspondence with dot stickers

  1. Write your phone number in large numbers across the paper. They can be block numbers or just written regularly.
  2. Sing your phone number together. Just like that car commercial or that catchy tune you heard on the radio, songs are great memorization tools!
  3. Place the correct number of dot stickers on each number in the phone number. The number 3 should have 3 stickers, 8 should have 8, etc.
  4. As your child peels the dot stickers, remind them the "Touch one, count one" rule.
  5. Each time your child finishes a number, have them go back and check their work. Here is another opportunity to build one to one correspondence, as your child can "touch one, count one" by touching each dot sticker they've placed on the number and counting.

Build on the Dot Sticker Phone Number Activity with the following one to one correspondence activities:

-instead of dot stickers, have your child "dot" your phone

number with Dot Paints

-use stickers of their choosing to dot the numbers in your

phone number. Mermaids? Dinosaurs?

-use these sticky googly eyes to stick on each number to

make the numbers monsters!

-place the correct number of Legos in/on each number

-use colored toothpicks as counters for each digit

-repeat your favorite ways of counting with a new phone


Teach your phone number, phone numbers with eyes and stickers on them

One to One Correspondence for Preschool

Is your child still struggling with one to one correspondence?

For beginner counters, try exercises where they have to actually move the objects they're counting. That will slow down their oral counting to match the number of objects.

By moving the objects, kids better keep track of what they've already counted.

As they get more confident in counting, they might only touch the object, then point at it, and then ideally for smaller numbers, they'll be able to visually know how many they have quickly in a skill called subitizing.

Want more one to one correspondence practice? If your child likes snack time, they'll love this snacktivity aka snack activity.

Does your young child count objects too fast and accidentally skip over items or count the same one twice?

This means that they do not yet have one to one correspondence.

The one to one correspondence definition is counting one number for every object counted. Simple put, it's counting accurately.

One to one correspondence develops for numbers under 5 in the preschool years and by the end of kindergarten, kids are expected to accurately count up to 20 objects.

We made our own board game to practice one to one correspondence and taking turns, which for preschoolers is also a BIG skill.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Make your own board game in 1 min!

What you'll need:

Magna-tiles -these are the best kids toy I've ever laid eyes on. My kids can play and build with them for hours, which I cannot say about any other toy. If you don't have Magna-tiles, you can always draw a board to play on. But really, I wish I hadn't waited to so long to get them because they're magical.

Dry Erase Foam Dice- These dry erase dice allow me to put what I want to on each side. For my 2 year old who only knows numbers up till 3, I wanted to reinforce those numbers only. This would also make it easier for her to count with one to one correspondence. On each side, I wrote 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, and 3. You can personalize it however you want! We even use them to add an element of surprise to chores and so many other ways.

Two toys of the kids' choosing, could be anything!

Create the board together

Making the board game together will be a great opportunity for practicing one to one correspondence.

We chose to have two separate tracks, but really you can make a board that all players use!

When making two seperate tracks, it was important that both players had the same number of Magna-tiles, or the game wouldn't be fair. This led us to deciding a certain number and counting that many squares together using one to one correspondence.

For counting larger numbers, it is important that children move each piece as they count one more in order to keep track.

Let's take turns and practice counting with one to one correspondence!

kristoff and olaf from frozen figurines on the track for the board game. (title) taking turns activities for preschoolers

How teach turn taking!

For many children, taking turns comes with struggle. Board games are a great way to practice taking turns, because turns are quick and there is opportunity for each player to get many turns.

We also use this "Taking Turns Song" to help remind the littlest what the expectations are in a gentle way.

Taking Turns Song:

Sung to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down"

There is something new I learned, new I learned, new I learned

I know how to wait my turn when I'm playing

I wait and watch until its time, till it's time, till it's time,

First it's yours and then it's mine, taking turns.

Usually by the end of the song, it's close to their turn!

How to play and teach 1:1 correspondence:

magnet tiles attached to form board game, foam die showing number to move each character forward. Title "counting for preschoolers quick and easy magnetic tile board game."

Practice One to One Correspondence through play

Each player puts their character of choice on the first square of the game board. In our house we alternate who goes first, but I've also heard of other families who have a general rule that the youngest player gets the first turn.

The first player rolls the foam die and reads the number. (If your child is struggling to remember a certain number, this is a great opportunity to practice it, since they'll have lots of exposure to it over the course of each game).

That player must move their character forward that many steps.

Remind your child to count slowly as they move their character forward one square for every number counted.

Lil Sis (2.5 years) doesn't yet have one to one correspondence so I tried these methods to help her better understand:

From beginning to end, she did begin counting with greater accuracy, and as we played again and again, she understood much more.

How This Method Teaches One to One Correspondence:

Lots of counting inaccuracy comes with kids rote counting, meaning they're just saying the sequence of numbers they've memorized. In a game, the numbers translate to movements on the board.

By actually having to move each piece only that amount, kids are more focused on counting slowly which leads to greater accuracy.

Taking turns also lets them try the new skill but also have a model for how it is done accurately.

When kids are counting groups of objects by sight or just by pointing to each item (this happens often in number books when there are no actual manipulatives to move) they more easily lose track of the number of objects.

Giving children manipulatives and asking them to physically pick up and move each item will develop the one to one correspondence concept that every number said stands for one more item.

To make it more difficult, you can increase the numbers on the dice. You can even include addition or subtraction equations on the dice with your dry erase marker, to level this up for older children.

Leave a comment below to let me know how you practice one to one correspondence with your child!

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