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 2020

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! 2020 UPDATE: This list is updated for another year! Enjoy a variety of Montessori friendly finds from both major retailers and smaller shops!  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, but only works for classroom settings. While there are many works that I recommend for home school use, you won't find these

Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and Guide

Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life observing, studying, and writing about children. During her lifetime of work she discovered that young children move through a series of special times when they are particularly attracted to specific developmental needs and interests. She called these times, sensitive periods. During the sensitive period, children learn skills related to the sensitive period with ease. They don't tire of that work, but seek it, crave it and need it. When the sensitive period passes, this intense desire is gone, never to return.  That doesn't mean the skill is lost forever once the sensitive period is over. Instead, it just means that it will take a more conscious effort to learn. As Dr. Montessori explains,  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. "A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables

Our Kids' Montessori Gift Lists 2020

With the holiday season upon us we've been making lists and gathering gifts for the Kavanaugh children. It's always a fun process of observing my children, seeing what they would really be interested in and making some decisions based on what I see. This year is different because I'm also making decisions knowing that we are looking at a very long and quiet winter ahead. So that's influencing the amount I will buy and the specific choices I will/have made.  Henry and Nora are also at the point, being into the second plane of development, where they heavily influence the items on the list and what is ultimately purchased. So, you'll see that while Montessori influences what I will purchase and what goes on their list, so does their own preferences and personality.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Theodore Teddy is 14-months-old right now and as the fourth baby, we have so many toddler things. But, there are a few things I've still found tha