Hands-on math materials are some of the most exciting in our classrooms. Two and three year olds learn to count to ten by grasping the sections of the “red and blue rods”. The two-rod is twenty centimeters long, shorter than the ten rod, which is 100 centimeters. The rods of different lengths give a visual impression of the quantities, of what it means for ten to be bigger than two.
Counting is a complicated process. There is much more to it than just repeating the sequence of numbers. Three and four year olds learn the concept of one-to-one correspondence by counting out individual spindles and placing them in marked boxes. As they say “one” they pick up one spindle,”two”, a second spindle.
Four and five year olds begin to learn about place value. They count unit beads, ten bars, hundred squares, and thousand cubes to make numbers such as “four thousand, six hundred, thirty-four”.