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One of my all time favorite books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When we read this book during our Spring Toddler Theme, Sicily was showing a strong interest in counting.
I decided to test out her signs of readiness as an invitation related to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
I made pictures of all the food the caterpillar eats. I laid them out on the floor lined up by the amount he ate with a wooden number on top of each row. I placed the junk food he ate on the floor as well, but I didn’t add a number to it.
I also added the butterfly life cycle pictures for a discussion.
We started the activity by reading the book. She noticed the butterfly picture right away after reading, so we spent time talking about the life cycle and matching the pictures to the ones in the book.
I pointed out the numbers. As I pointed to each number, I said “This is the number 3″ and traced it with my finger. She decided to copy what I was doing.
We talked about how each number represents how many of each fruit the caterpillar ate. I pointed to each number again, said the name, and traced it. This time we counted each fruit.
When we finished, I sat back and let Sicily explore the invitation in her own way.
She lined up all the pictures and started counting…”1…2…3…1…2…3.” She only knew how to count to 3 by herself, so she just kept repeating. When she got to the end of the line, she was so excited.
Even though she didn’t count the “right” way, she was still getting valuable counting practice. Eventually, she will notice there are more than 3 numbers and begin counting higher. This is where the encouraging environment comes in.
Now that she is interested in counting, I’ll add more activities like this one to encourage her to learn more about counting and numbers.
During this activity, Sicily was honing her skills in counting, number recognition, one to one correspondence, classification (lining them up), and hand-eye coordination. She also got some science discovery with the butterfly life cycle.