Kinesthetic Number Sense

Mar 10, 2017

We have all been there…trying to get students to develop one-to-one correspondence with concrete objects. You have a pile of counters ready on your table.”Watch how I do it,” you say. “1, 2, 3, 4.” And with great patience, you carefully move one counter at a time from one side of the table to the other. Kinesthetic Number SenseYour student was watching, studying you intently as you counted and moved the objects, now it’s time to switch roles. You instruct the student to do it, “the same way I did it.”

Then you sit back and watch with amazement as the student proceeds to count, while pushing the counters – “1, 2, 3, 4.” Except the amount of counters in the pile doesn’t the match the spoken number. The student was supposed to show 4, but there are 2 or 6 or maybe even 10 counters in the pile! You patiently model again and then trade spots with the student again. And again, limited or no success!

TIME OUT!! WAIT A MINUTE! Ask yourself: is counting the area in math skill development I really should be working on? Instead, ask yourself: does this student have kinesthetic one-to-one correspondence?  90% of the time the answer is NO!
math pyramidTake a look at this pyramid. In order to truly develop that one-to-one correspondence (one number is equal to one object)necessary to count counters accurately, students first need to have thousands of experiences with real objects in the physical world. This high quantity of experiences cannot be provided just during school hours. However, when we go on home visits, guess what we find? If you guessed the iPad, you would be right! How about blocks? Legos? Bristle Blocks? Interactions with these kinds of toys help students learn to manipulate individual objects and lay the groundwork for one-to-one correspondence that we need in order to build on it in the classroom.
Students must develop kinesthetic number sense, associating their body’s movements with numbers and counting, before they can fully grasp one-to-one correspondence with concrete objects. Kinesthetic number sense is developed through physical activities like going for walks, jump roping, playing four-square, hopscotch, skipping and more. Here is the problem: Many students today have not had these experiences and are lacking in kinesthetic development in general, let alone kinesthetic number sense.
On average, we find that at least five students in every Kindergarten classroom have not yet developed kinesthetic one-to-one correspondence, but yet we are teaching math concepts beyond this foundational level so they are behind from the beginning.
What will happen if we ignore this layer in development or let it go unnoticed? It will be a layer that will rot and over time the rotted layer of thinking will seep through into other areas of math skill development!
However, we can catch students before they fall IF we can discover their lack of kinesthetic one-to-one correspondence early. The good news is kinesthetic one-to-one correspondence can be taught. When we find students who are weak in this area, and work with them for just ten minutes everyday on developing kinesthetic number sense, they have it mastered in about three weeks! What does this look like? Watch as Shannon explains and demonstrates:

 So check it out…if you are worried that a child is missing this foundational layer of number sense, give them this quick assessment. It is as easy as discovering if a child can or cannot rhyme! Either you have kinesthetic number sense, or you don’t!
(click image to visit our store and download the PDF)
If they don’t, then it’s time to develop it! Check out these quick and easy ideas to get kids to develop this layer in learning.
Kinesthetic Numeracy Activities
(click image for downloadable PDF)

Another great book (I know it’s in your building somewhere) is Math Their Way. It is full of lots of great activities that help develop this layer! https://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Spiral-bound-Teacher-Blackline-Masters/dp/0201861496. All the Blackline Masters are online to go with the book!  http://www.center.edu/BLACKLINES/blacklines.shtml

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