To work with formal mathematical concepts successfully, students must understand the concepts of classification, sorting and one-to-one correspondence, just to name a few. It is imperative to first work with and understand these concepts on the basis of quality that is the attributes such as shape, size or weight before moving on to their application to general quantity such as many, few or none.
In order for students to develop their distinctive number sense, and a working knowledge of the above concepts, they must be exposed and interact with their environment, exploring and manipulating, comparing, arranging and rearranging real objects and sets of objects.
Activities for teaching basic concepts
- Involve children in daily living activities around the home or classroom. For example, helping to put manipulative in a divided tray with a sample in each section provides practice in matching, sorting and categorizing; helping to sort different items of utensils or cloths in the dramatic play centre provides additional practice with these concepts.
- Give children various opportunities to use everyday items for matching and categorizing: eating utensils, work tools, food or fruit, and toys for function; shoes and shoelaces for matching by size or length.
- Have children copy simple shapes on geoboards. After they are able to work independently, they can make their own shapes based on names or clues such as "four corners" “three sides”, etc.