This activity allows a child who is ready for counting to work independently to learn the number names and practice saying them if they can. They work on one-to-one correspondence by moving one object at a time and hitting the switch with each transfer. They learn to count, and make sets of objects. I created this counting work for a couple of students in my classroom who are interested in counting activities, but don’t have enough language to count verbally.
- Tray for materials
- Step by step switch recorded with numbers 1-10
- 2 separate bowls, or a cat/dog food dish with 2 sections
- 10 objects for counting
Initially I have allowed the student to work with the switch alone. They press the switch and practice rote counting. They begin to learn that after 10 the switch will start back over at 1.
After initial presentation I will demonstrate the entire process of the work start to finish as outlined below. Depending on the vision, or motor skills of the child, I have found that using a hand under hand technique is the best way to demonstrate.
After I have demonstrated I would then let them have a turn and watch that they are doing it correctly.
- **Child carries work to a table or work mat; the tray should be positioned so that the objects are on the left side and they are counted from left to right.
- **The child turns on the switch.
- The child picks up one object from the left and moves it to the right and then presses the switch.
- The child repeats this until all the objects are gone.
- Once all objects are gone, the bowls should be repositioned so that the items for counting are on the left. (Some kids will want to just move the items back, I usually show them to turn the entire dish or switch the bowls so that they are always working in a left to right pattern.)
** Indicates steps that may need to be completed by an adult if the child does not yet demonstrate all of the skills necessary.
- You can always change the objects to fit the child’s interest or theme in the classroom.
- You could program the switch to count to lower numbers, if maybe the child is only ready for 3 or 5
- You can show the child how to turn the switch on and off again to reset to the beginning (if your switch has that capability). This is helpful if you are asking them to make sets of certain amounts.
- You could use the switch with other math work, such as a different post I have of using the number cards to make sets. See Beginning Math Literacy. (This would require that the child is visually identifying numbers)
- You might need to demonstrate the process multiple times for kids who need multiple repetitions.
- I use my switch for counting friends during circle time.
- I have also used the TapSpeak Sequence Standard App, available in the app store for $29.99 to create a step-by-step switch that counts and shows the number (this app is very cool if you haven’t seen it. You can create anything you want in a step-by-step sequence… colors, numbers, letters, stories. It allows you to add visuals and sound which enhances the experience that a basic step-by-step switch provides.