Teaching with the Counting Board

By fitting the blocks into the proper grooves on the Counting Board, children become familiar with the structure of numbers even before they are introduced to the number names or symbols. All pieces on the counting board are removable, allowing the teacher to provide the appropriate level of scaffolding for students while focusing on each concept within ten.

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The Counting Board is used to teach the following concepts of numbers:

The following sketches are from Experimenting with Numbers, the first in the series of teacher guides which all feature these easy-to-follow directions.
The teacher points to the space where a four-block would fit and asks the students, who each hold two different number blocks, 'who has the block that fits here?'

Discovering Size Relationships

Children discover size relationships and the structure of numbers within ten while completing the “puzzle” of the Counting Board. Even before learning the number names, students learn to match the size of the block to its groove. They discover that each block has its place in the sequence, and they learn the meaning of bigger, biggest, smaller, smallest. An important part of this stage is helping children begin to reason about numbers, construct arguments and critique those of others with the support of concrete manipulatives. These are important early concepts that must be mastered in order to reason meaningfully about numbers.


Learning to Count - Identifying Blocks by Their Number Names

When being introduced to the Counting Board children progress through the same sequence as they do in learning to talk. First, meaning is developed through actions and the perception of visual relationships; then in later experiments, the number names are introduced and used to identify the blocks. The children rapidly learn the number names and associate them with quantities represented by the blocks. 

The teacher insructs a child to 'stand up four' which sits inside the tray.

The teacher instructs a child to pick a number, tell where it goes in the tray, and put it there. The child picks three.

Introducing Number Symbols 1 to 10

The number symbols from 1 to 10 are introduced by attaching the number guide to the counting board and asking the children to match the symbols on the markers with the identical symbol on the number guide.


Learning to Associate the Number Block with the Number Symbol

Children indicate their recognition by drawing a line from the block to its symbol.
(A page from Structural Arithmetic Workbook I.)

The number blocks are pictured ouside the tray and children are instructed to draw a line in the workbook from the number block to where it fits in the tray

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