Skip to main content

Transferring as Early Math Work

Toddlers love to transfer! They just love it! And the best way to engage them in transferring work is to make it REAL and PRACTICAL. So, moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, scooping/spooning/tonging food from a serving bowl to an individual plate, pouring water from a pitcher to their drinking cup, etc. But, sometimes that need to transfer is so strong that they will love a tray work meant specifically for transferring. 

Gus is at that stage right now! But instead of having something where he is endlessly transferring without purpose, I decided to change it up a little bit and sneak in a bit of math. As I've said before, toddlerhood isn't for teaching academic concepts to your child. But, it is about laying a foundation for this work to come later on. One way to do that is with some one-to-one correspondence work. 

An easy way to make transferring work for a toddler into a way to build math skills

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

One-to-one correspondence is the concept that each object represents one thing. Eventually, these things are connected to abstract symbols that represent this number of things (the numbers). In Montessori, this comes well after children learn quantities concretely. So, in practical terms when creating work, this means one space for one thing. So, a toddler is transferring, but also getting that indirect preparation for concrete math.

 You can also add the counting language as they do this work, so that they are learning the names for that quantity too! But the counting is ALWAYS accompanied by concrete representations of the actual quantity that they are counting. 

There are so many ways to set up work like this! We used little pumpkins (keeping it seasonal and fun) and a mini-muffin tin. Simple! It could also be used with an ice cube tray, a divided tray, or any similar container. The items for transferring can be varied as well! Just make sure there is only 1 for each spot in your container. Also make sure the thing that the toddler is transferring is 1. the same (even in color so that only quantity is changing) and 2. safe for them to explore. 

Also, KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN CHECK! Toddlers are not meant to sit and do tray work for hours. They just don't. They will spill, explore with the material, could throw the material, or come up with their own interesting way to explore. In these cases, you need to observe to see if your child is really ready for this type of work. It may be that your child isn't, or just needs more practical (and real) work like those I first talked about! 

There are still plenty of ways to work on one-to-one correspondence practically and in a real context. Bake some muffins together, and have your child place the papers or put eggs away (if you have one of those slotted containers for them). 

I want to empahsize that once again, these little trays may not work for every toddler. And, they are something that we only do occasionally! But, if you see a need in your child to transfer, here's one way to sneak in a little extra concrete learning and fun! 

Does your toddler enjoy transferring? Have you considered a one-to-one corresponding work? 

An easy way to make transferring work for a toddler into a way to build math skills



Nora said…
You explain the principles behind each work so well. Thank you.

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2021

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure! 2021 UPDATE: Please be patient with links this year, with supply chain issues things are selling out faster and restocking slower. I anticipate some of the specialty toys will not restock once they are gone. Puzzles, in particular, have been difficult to find in stock. So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created toys, bu

Montessori Toddler: Favorite Toys and Activities 18 to 20 months

I've been putting off this post for a little while because I felt a little disappointed that I didn't have more to share. See, Teddy just isn't that into materials, especially those on the shelf. He tends to return to a couple of favorites over and over again and ignore all other attempts at shelf work. But, really that's my own adult feelings getting in the way of Teddy's own interests, and developmental path.  It's also me subconsciously valuing fine motor skills and stillness as more important than gross motor play and movement. I working hard not to do that, and want to normalize that all toddlers are different. All children have different interests and that concentration doesn't have to mean sitting still for long stretches of time.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. With all that said, here are some of Teddy's favorites over the last couple of months. Favorite Montessori Toys 18 to 20 Months I'm listing the toys that have be

Our Family's Montessori Christmas Gift Lists 2021

It's hard to believe another holiday season is upon us again. Every year I enjoy putting together my kids' Christmas gift lists. It's really a good time to observe them, see what they are interested in and what they might be ready for during this coming year. It's one of the few times a year that I purchase new materials for our home so it's always really exciting. IF YOU NEED MORE IDEAS DON'T MISS MY ULTIMATE MONTESSORI TOY LIST OR MY 2021 DEALS PAGE ! When considering these lists, please remember that these were curated based on my own children. Use them for inspiration but they are heavily influenced by what my children are into and interested in. And for my older second plane children, what they have asked for!  Here's a look at our family's Montessori Christmas lists for 2021!  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Theodore (Toddler) Teddy is just over 2-years-old. Being our fourth baby, he is really hard for me to think of unique