Friday 27 April 2012

Counting in Tens

Garden Girl wanted to count to 100 but didn't quite have the patience to get there. She stumbled whenever she reached 29, 39, 49 etc because she didn't know what came next. She was trying numbers such as 'twenty tenty,' and 'thirty twenty tenty', so I thought I would teach her to count in tens so she would know these numbers.

I started with repetiton, repeating the numbers over and over, asking her to say them after me. Ten, Twenty, Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty, Ninety, One Hundred. She loved how quickly we reached one hundred and soon became familiar with the numbers, although she sometimes got them in the wrong order or missed one out. Now that she was familiar with the sound of the numbers however, I started to explain comparisons with one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

I asked her to hold her fingers up and explained the following:

When you count in tens each finger has ten tiny fairies sitting on it, so every finger is really ten fairies and not one finger.

One is the first number, Ten is the first ten, so one finger is ten fairies.
Two begins with the sound 't'. So does 'twenty', so two fingers make twenty fairies.
Three begins with the sound 'th'. So does 'thirty', so three fingers make thirty fairies.
I went on to point out how forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty and ninety all start with the same sound as four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.

All Garden Girl needs to do to count is tens is hold up a finger, say the number in ones and then find the ten that matches. She picked this up surprisingly quickly but she was familiar with all the tens before she started doing this. She knew all the words, just needed to put them in the right order. To keep it fresh in her mind we count in tens on the way to school every morning. It takes less than a minute, but by doing it every day she is starting to know the order without having to think about it.

It is also important to make sure she is aware what she is doing when she counts in tens, which is why I ask her to imagine ten tiny fairies on each finger. In this way she knows that with every finger she is adding a group of ten fairies onto the previous ten fairies. We occasionally use buttons to do the same thing, counting out ten groups of ten buttons and then counting each group in tens. Just being able to recite the numbers is not enough.

Your child needs to understand what it means to count in tens, what it looks like and that with each number you say, you are adding on ten single objects. Doing this visually, with ten groups of ten objects is the most effective way of explaining this. They will need to keep doing it to understand and remember, but only do it once each day or it will become boring. Whilst we count in tens every day, we look at groups of objects when we have a spare five minutes at a weekend. Garden Girl is more interested in reading and writing than numbers so this is enough for her, but if your child is interested in numbers, willing and you have the time, do it every day. The more they do it, the more they will understand and remember.

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