Connect the Dots

Providing developmentally appropriate activities for young children (ages 3-5) in the areas of matching, sorting, comparing, ordering, and subitizing is a very important first step in the development of number sense. These important concepts create the early foundations of mathematical thinking. Each month DMG will focus on one of the pre-number concepts and give you activities that you can use with your child or students to help develop the concept.


August 2007
This month our focus is

Matching leads to understanding the concept of one-to-one correspondence. When a child passes out cookies, each child in the room gets one cookie. Maybe there are just the right amount of cookies or maybe there are extra cookies. When counting blocks, each block is counted once and only once. Matching forms the basis for our number system. When a child can create “the same”, it then becomes possible to match two sets. This becomes a prerequisite skill for the more difficult tasks of conservation.

Matching occurs in many everyday activities:
• Getting dressed, eating, school, playing, and other activities: setting the table, folding the laundry (match socks and clothes to child, mom, dad), sharing birthday treats.

The following are different ways that children can practice matching skills. Number Concept Dot Match and Sort Sets are available to support conceptual development.

(Use the Match and Sort Number Concept Dots or other like materials)

1. Matching items that are different
(Visually easier to match items that are different).

• Use the Number Concept Dot Match and Sort Set or similar items. Place 4 paper plates in front of the child. Give the child 4 circles. Have the child use the circles and match a circle to each of the plates.
Extend: Give the child more plates and/or different shapes.

2. Matching items that are the same
(More difficult to determine if each item has a mate)

• Use the Number Concept Dot Match and Sort Set or similar items. Use 2 red circles, 2 red squares, 2 red triangles, and 2 red rectangles. Lay out one of each. Give the child the remaining red shapes. Ask the child to match each shape with one that is the same. This has the child looking for “sameness” of shape.
Extend: Give the child all of the squares and ask them to make color matches.

3. Match a few items (1 - 5) Match many items
(easier to match in the 1-5 range)

• Use the Number Concept Dot Match and Sort Set or similar items. Begin with 1 to 5 shapes in two colors. Place all of the shapes in one pile. Ask the child to find two shapes that are the same. Continue until all shapes are matched.
Extend: Increase the number of shapes and/or the colors that are given to the child.

• Place 3 shapes in one row. Place 5 shapes in a second row (3 of the same shapes). Ask the child to match. Watch to see what the child does with the extras.
Extend: Increase the number of shapes in rows one and two.

4. Match items that have the same number in each set

• Use the Number Concept Dot Match and Sort Set or similar items. Make a set that has three different shapes. Make a second set that has the three shapes and three other shapes. Ask the child to build a matching set. In this task, the child is matching sameness of number.
Extend: You can increase the number of shapes in both sets.

• Place 4 different colored circles on a paper plate, Give the child a paper plate and one colored circle. Ask the child to make a match on his/her plate.
Extend: Change the shapes that you place on the plate. It becomes more difficult when you ask the child to look for color and shape matches.

5. Match items that do not have the same number in each set/row

• Use the Number Concept Match and Sort Set. Lay out any color circle, triangle, square, and rectangle in a line. Give the child three of the four shapes and ask them to match each. Watch to see what the child does when he/she cannot find a match for one of the shapes. Ask questions to help the child see that sometimes all items do not match.