Arithmetic Senser: Foundations

Very young children are sensitive to combining or separating perceptual groups. An infant may observe, point, or make sounds while someone else introduces a quantity of objects. They will notice the effects of increasing or decreasing small collections by one item and may also be sensitive to the results of combining larger groups. 


You may see this:

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Other Examples:

  • An infant, shown two groups of 5 dots hidden behind a screen one at a time, acts more surprised and interested when the screen is taken away to show only five dots (an incorrect amount) than if it is removed to reveal ten dots (a correct amount).
  • An infant reacts to demonstrations of addition and subtraction that use objects and manipulatives by alternating visual tracking during operational steps performed by a caregiver (i.e., showing two puppets, hiding one, pointing to the remaining puppet, waving hands in the air). 
  • An infant babbles and coos, showing interest in watching different quantity arrangements.

Help your student become a(n) Arithmetic Senser: Foundations

These activities provide very young children with many opportunities to interact with quantities that change, in many forms (e.g., water added, as well as more or fewer blocks). Use language to describe the adding or subtracting of objects, as simple as "One more block! There are so many!" or a modified "peek-a-boo" in which the number of objects changes between peeks.

Special Thanks To

Institute of Education Sciences
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant numbers R305K050157, R305A120813, R305A110188, and R305A150243. to the University of Denver. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.