“More” to “Zero”

How many are wondering how this is a math concept? 

If we think about it “more” is one of the first concepts that children understand. “Do you want more?” For those that do baby signs “more” is one of the early ones taught and learned. Let’s think how “more” fits into math.

“More” is the skill of comparing. “This basket has more blocks in it.” Children can visually see this even before they can count. It’s algebraic knowledge: addition/subtraction. 

This toddler wasn’t thinking “math”, but she was thinking “more”. She wanted the table covered with dirt. She was exploring this sensory learning opportunity. She kept getting down and bringing more handfuls of dirt to the table top and spreading it out. I didn’t need to add anything she had the “more” down pat. I also saw all the understanding of spatial relationships. This was an opportunity for me to observe and document development. I watched her work on this, totally focused until the table top was covered, then she got down and headed off for another experience.

Here’s another: “That’s a math concept?” 

Zero is another beginning point for building algebraic knowledge: addition/subtraction.

If you stop and think about all the times you say or hear: “All gone”; “There’s nothing left.”; or “You used them all.”; you’ll realize how naturally “zero” is present in an infant’s/toddler’s environment.

Here’s a typical event that I see as representing the chance to work on supporting the concept of “zero”. It is developmentally appropriate for young children to dump baskets of objects. It’s also appropriate for them to fill the container back up. As a toddler develops better fine motor skills they like to starts purposefully taking items in and out of smaller containers like bags.

Activities like “Peek-a-Boo” reinforce the concept of “zero” – “all gone”.

Making homemade simple games like the drop box pictured here also support “zero”. Where has the ball gone? This is building the child’s building knowledge of spatial relationships.

You can also find “more” and “zero” in any sensory activity that involves pouring, dumping.

This water activity really offers this knowledge with the two bins that can have the water transported between them going from full to empty. Also the individual smaller containers filling up and emptying.

This learning opportunity also covers another math concept under measurement – volume. Math concepts often overlap.

Next: Measurement

Home page: Bringing Math Forward

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