11 Best One to One Correspondence Activities

Kids counting for one to one correspondence post

One to One Correspondence Activities

Unknowingly to me, I began teaching my child one to one correspondence before they turned three years old. Counting is one of my favorite activities to work on with kids. And I will be sharing all of the ways we have worked on one to one correspondence, from the comfort of our home.

What is One to One Correspondence?

If you are an educator, it’s likely you are already familiar with one to one correspondence. However, if you are a parent, like myself, you may be wondering what exactly it is. One to one correspondence is the realization that a number corresponds with a specific quantity of objects.

For example, let’s say we put several pieces of paper with numbers on them in a hat and drew one. If that number was 7, the child would count and place 7 items in front of them.

Learning this math skill is essential as it will be built upon for years to come. As children learn to add, subtract and move on to more complex math problems.

My Child can Count to 20, is this the Same Thing?

Simply counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. is not the same as one to one correspondence. With that said, counting to 20 is not always an easy feat for youngsters. So, of course, reaching this milestone should be celebrated.

However, one to one correspondence is understanding that a number represents a quantity of objects. For example, the number 1 corresponds to just 1 item.

Children will work on counting by touching an object and only counting it once as they move or point to it. They should not skip numbers or count the same number more than once as they move or point to items.

When to Introduce this Skill

Typically, this skill is introduced in preschool, so think ages 3-5. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I began working on this skill prior to my kid turning 3 years old (about 2 months before). In our situation, the readiness and eagerness to learn was there.

At this young of an age, I followed the lead of my child. Some days, we would play and sit for 5-7 minutes working on math. And others, it may only last a couple minutes or even less. I’ve also found that at this age, giving a day or two break throughout the week is beneficial.

Activities for One to One Correspondence

Heres the good news. You don’t need anything super fancy to help kids learn to count with one to one correspondence. Some of the activities below use common household objects, while others may just add another element of fun.

Speaking of fun. The best thing you can do for your child is make the activities as fun and exciting for them as possible. This shouldn’t feel like a task, but rather that they are unknowingly learning while they play.

Count Body Parts

This activity was the first I used with my own kiddo. It’s easy and requires absolutely no setup. You may ask them to count how many legs they have, how many arms, hands, feet, etc.

One thing I did was have my child count the number of fingers I had. I started with just one hand, instead of holding up both hands. Then I would have them count how many fingers they had.

Not only are they learning to count, but they are able to see the similarities between their body and that of others.

Using Bear Counters

One of our favorite counters to use are the teddy bear counters. I love this set for it’s variation of bright colors, sturdiness and easy storage solution.

You can make the activity as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. Typically, I use these on days where I am looking for simplicity.

So, what I may do is dump a couple or few handfuls of bears on the floor. First, they will work on grouping the bears by color. And then they will count each of the groups of bears, picking the bears up and putting them in a line (or however else they want to place them).

Counting Food

Another fun and easy activity is having kids count groups of food. We have this set of food groups that I liked to use when first learning one to one correspondence counting.

It is great because it separates the food by colors and has nice little containers that kids can place the food back into. And any activity where I can mix two learning abilities into one is a win for me.

Since kids love to dump things on the floor; this is one activity where I let them do the dumping. The pieces are large and will not get lost.

Once the foods are on the floor, we again may work on first separating the foods by color. And then they will count the foods as they place them back into the correct bucket.

Since the containers hold just five food items, this is a great activity while learning to count to five.

Other variations of this activity may be separating foods by vegetables, fruits, grains and then counting each food group. Or simply counting pieces of food.

Linking Cubes

We love to use linking cubes to practice counting; this is the set we have. Kids love to snap and take apart the cubes, which is why I love to incorporate them into counting practice.

For these, you can give the child a number and then have them connect that many cubes together. Or, you can snap a set of cubes together and then have the child count them either as they are or as they pull them apart.

Task Cards

While I prefer to use hands-on activities for one to one correspondence math, task cards can be a great way to practice counting, as well. I have several task cards that I use for counting.

Instead of physically moving an item, children will point to the items as they count. I love to use these with some type of monthly theme. For example, I use gingerbread counting during Christmas time, turkey feather counting during Thanksgiving, etc. It is a fun way to mix the activities up so that kids do not get bored with the same graphics.

I have several of these task cards ready to download in the shop. These can either be purchased separately or they are included in the membership. Here are a couple of examples of task cards I have used in the past.

one to one correspondence task card that is Thanksgiving themed. Task cards feature turkeys with varying number of feathers for kids to count
One to One Correspondence Thanksgiving Example
Gingerbread count the gumdrops task card examples. Gingerbread houses have varying number of gumdrops for kids to count to help with one to one correspondence activities
Count the Gumdrops Counting Activity

Number Dots

This activity can be used with dot markers; these ones are our favorites. Or, you can use cotton balls or swabs with paint. Simply make some circles on paper and place a number in the circle. Kids will then dot the circles that many times.

Sticker Counting

Kids absolutely love to use stickers. In fact, if you leave them alone with stickers, you may soon find your space covered in them. So, why not create a one to one correspondence activity with stickers, where they are also learning?

Similar to the number dots, you will give the kids a piece of paper and ask them to place a specific number of stickers on them. If you’d like to have a more organized activity. You could make squares for the kids to place stickers in. Or use a five or ten-frame.

Count the Candles

One of my kids’ favorite toys is a cake that comes with candies and candles. These can be used in one to one correspondence by telling the kids a number and then asking them to place that many candles or candies on the cake.

If you do not have this toy, we also love to create “cakes” with play dough and then use pretend candles or other objects around the house for decoration.

Block Counting

Building blocks are a staple in many homes with young children and in preschools. Depending on the blocks that you have on hand, you can either use these as the linking cubes above. Or you can simply ask the kids to stack a specific amount of blocks on top of each other.

Count the Ice Creams

If you have a toy ice cream set, such as this one, you could play count the ice cream scoops. Either add the scoops and then have the child count them or give the child a number and have them build atop the ice cream cone.

Even if you do not have an ice cream set, you can easily recreate an activity like this using a printable.

Use Cupcake Tins or Ice Cube Trays

You may have seen these activities around Pinterest or social media sites and they are perfect for practicing one to one correspondence. A number is verbally stated or placed into the cupcake or ice cube tray and then the child places that many objects into the space provided.

Alternatively, you could use each space to represent one item. Then the child would place one item into each individual space and count aloud as they do so.

Other One to One Correspondence Activities

Here are other ways to practice one to one correspondence math:

  • Baking/Cooking: include children when baking or cooking foods. Ask them to get you a specific amount of foods. For example, for a recipe that calls for 4 eggs, you would ask them to take out that many eggs (remind them to treat them gently as they do so! ?)
  • Count the Cookies: ask kids to put a certain number of cookies on a baking sheet. Or after placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, ask children to count how many are on there.
  • Getting Dressed/Putting Away Clothes: as kids are getting ready to leave for the day, ask them to count how many shoes they need to put on. Or as they put away clothes, ask them to count the number of shirts, pants, etc. that they are putting away.
  • Count the Canned Goods: take out canned goods from the pantry and have children count the cans that you have placed out.
  • Count the Food: do your kids enjoy Goldfish or Teddy Grahams? Practice counting with the food and then let them enjoy it afterwards!
  • Dice Games: there are so many one to one correspondence games that you can play with your children that include dice. For example, you could have them roll the dice and then pick up the number of items they landed on. Or, you could make this a physical activity. For example, the roll the dice and then jump that many spaces. The possibilities are endless.

There are so many fun and engaging ways for kids to learn one to one correspondence math. I hope that these activities have sparked some creativity with you and have given you ideas on what you can use with your own kiddos/students.

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