Of all the math games in this book, counting games are the most basic and the most important. The skills they teach and the knowledge they require are important in almost all the other games and in much of the arithmetic or mathematics curriculum of our schools.

      This is where it begins.

      The games have been arranged in approximate order of difficulty. HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE? is probably the easiest and should be played often before games like SHOW ME or STONES ON MY LEGS are attempted. HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE? requires concrete objects. This is a very important requirement for a young child.

      Before the counting games are attempted, a child needs to begin to count. I certainly don't mean by himself or by herself, I mean by watching or helping an adult count. Children learn the words one, two, and three, and so on by hearing other humans say them and by watching how they are used. Use numbers often when children are about. Children understand words and ideas long before they themselves begin to speak. Count so they are able to see and hear you count.

      When a child does begin to count he or she will not be able to keep track of what's been counted. Even with items lined up, a young child will not be able to count them alone. The adult must do this job. Help the child by pointing to an item as the child counts it or as you both count it.

      In addition to pointing and counting, try moving the piece to a new pile once it's been counted. Both methods are important for a young child to see.

      Counting out loud when numbers are written sequentially is also important. Read as you point to the written numerals.

      Counting practice may take place in games or in normal daily life. Often an adult teaches a child to speak by pointing to something, naming it, and using this name when speaking to the child. A child can learn to count in exactly the same manner.

      Very little counting practice is necessary for the game of HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE. The concepts of one and two are all a child needs to play this first math game.

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