Number Senser: Foundations

Has inborn specific "sensers" for number from the first months of life without explicit knowledge of number. Intuitively distinguishes between groups of 1 and 2 (and possibly 2 and 3). Also shows sensitivity to ratios of quite large numbers. (Approximate Number System, or ANS). These are pre-mathematical, foundational abilities. 


You may see this:

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Other Examples:

  • Shown many groups of three, a child "habituates" to them (i.e., becomes uninterested, relaxed) but immediately shows interest when then shown a group of two.
  • An infant visually tracks the path of a moving object.
  • A toddler takes enjoyment when a large number of toys are provided at once, but may need the number to be reduced to avoid overstimulation.

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

These suggestions promote everyday experiences with…almost everything!  That is, children are sensitive to quantity, and (perceptually obvious) difference in quantities in the first year of life. Providing opportunities to observe and manipulate quantities and change in quantities builds on their natural sensitivities and interest. Providing language enhances these experiences.

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.