As I am cooking lunch, Magnolia informs me that she wants three peas and three noodles.
I give no more and no less.
She stares at the plate bewildered. Then her eyes light up and she says, "Mama, I want five peas and five noodles."
Again, I oblige.
This time her confusion doesn't last as long. As she stares at her near empty plate Maggie exclaims, "Mama, I want EIGHT peas and EIGHT noodles."
This time when I hand her plate back, she is crestfallen. "Mama, I want....I want...," she stammers, eyebrows furrowed.
Sensing that the mounting frustration is going to trump our little number sense lesson, and not wanting to count large numbers of little peas and noodles, I suggest, "You want a lot of peas and a lot of noodles?"
Relieved and enthusiastic, she replies, "Yeah! I want a lot of peas and a lot of noodles!"
As a math teacher, I am more and more amazed at how natural the concepts of number sense come to kids. I am baffled at how students get them so messed up by the time they get to high school (Number sense is one of the most struggled with topics on our state exam). I won't spend too much time on my education soap box here (maybe another blog in the future???), but I think these natural situations are the best way for letting kids develop a solid number sense.