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Teachers of young children talk about one to one correspondence, but what is it? One to One correspondence is counting one object for every number said.
Without one to one correspondence, one will not be able to count objects accurately. When a child is able to count one object per each number said, they also understand that a number represents a specific quantity.
At what age do kids develop one to one correspondence? This can be between the ages of 3-5. In kindergarten, kids are expected to count up to 20 objects with one to one correspondence. In preschool up to 10.
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Does your child do this?

When given a quantity of objects and asked to count, many kids count faster than they register each object resulting in counting to a number that is MORE than the actual number of objects!
This happens because kids learn counting as a rote skill. They memorize the number order much earlier than they learn to count objects, so saying the numbers in that order is automatic. For many, they are just saying numbers in order without any knowledge of numbers representing quantities.
So, we have to SLOW DOWN!
The best way to build one to one correspondence is to give children a way to slow down their counting. I teach my students a counting rule called, "Touch 1, count 1." For every object they are counting, they must either touch it, or move it to another spot completely.
This snack activity, aka snacktivity, is a highly engaging way to build one to one correspondence with items you already have around the house. You can also use it as an assessment to see if your child has one to one correspondence up to a certain number.

A muffin pan filled with snacks on the left and on the right, the same pan covered in aluminum foil with numbers written on each circular space

Get ready for Punch Math Snacktivity - One to One Correspondence Game

With this simple hands-on learning game, your kid will love learning number recognition, one to one correspondence, numeracy, and even arithmetic. Just grab these few supplies and get ready to play.

What you'll need:

Prep your Punch Math Snacktivity:

  1. Put a few snacks in each circle. Make sure they're small and dry.
  2. Then wrap aluminum foil over the top and sides of the muffin pan.
  3. Over each circle, draw a circle then write a number that your child can identify or is working on identifying.

For preschoolers, I recommend numbers between 1-10. For kindergarteners, numbers ranging from 1-15. Don't go into the teens unless your child has mastered 1-10.

Three Ways to Play to build One to One Correspondence and Other Math Skills:

Simplest Way to Play: Builds One to One Correspondence and Number Recognition

For this version, your child is solely focused on number recognition and one to one correspondence.
Present your kiddo with the straw and talk about the numbers they see on the aluminum. Their mission is to uncover their snack by identifying the correct number and punching through the aluminum foil that many times.
Invite your child to play by asking them to punch number 3 three times, number 5 five times, etc.
By punching the straw through the aluminum foil they're forced to slow down their counting and follow the "touch one, count one," rule of one to one correspondence.
They'll be thrilled to reveal the snacks underneath with each punch through. For an additional way to practice, you can have them count the snacks as well!

Medium Difficulty Way to Play: Builds One to One Correspondence and Number Sense

Once your preschooler or kindergartner has a good grip on number identification try this way of playing that builds number sense using more than and less than.
Call out actions such as, "Punch a number that is more than 5. Punch a number that is less than 2."
Another way to play this way is to show them on your hands a number of fingers and ask them to find a number that is more than or less than that many! That way they're "subitizing" the number of fingers, translating that into the number they identified, and then building their knowledge of more and less.

Advanced Way to Play: Builds One to One Correspondence and Arithmetic Skills

You guessed it, have your child determine which number is the sum or the difference to your simple arithmetic problem, and punch the number the correct number of times to reveal the snack beneath.
Use call outs like, "Punch the number that is 5 +1!" and "Punch the number that is 4-2!"
To scaffold and make this a little less tricky, use your fingers to show addition and subtraction. Hold up 8 fingers, "Punch the number that is this many take away 3!"

Assess your child's skills with this game!

In order to best guide our children in their learning, we must assess their skills.
This helps us to avoid wasting time teaching them the same things when they've already mastered them, but also it helps us target specific skills that need more attention.
As you play this one to one correspondence game with your child, review what they do accurately and what they don't. Take note.
When we watch our children during a learning activity and take note of what they can and can't do, it's called an observational assessment.
Does your child begin to count to fast once they get to the teen numbers? This will help you target one to one correspondence in the teens for a future activity.
Does your child instantly add small numbers but falter when it comes to subtraction? Those are the skills that require more attention as you play together.
Assessments are essential to help children reach new heights in every topic. When a teacher or parent is made aware of what the child doesn't yet know, even without creating special activities or games to target that skill, the child is more likely to become proficient.
Why? Well, for example, if I knew my daughter always got stuck on the number 7. I would organically bring it up as we cook dinner, I might count out 7 carrots with her. On a walk, I may be more likely to point out the number 7 on a license plate.
Assessment is KEY to your child's success!

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