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November 01, 2018

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

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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


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