Ian, age four years ten months, seemed to be lagging in the formation of
basic math concepts, such as one-to-one correspondence, that were part
of the number sense standard for preschool and kindergarten in his state.
He showed little sustained interest in math materials. His teaching team
discussed their concerns and decided they needed to embed mathematical
curriculum in the areas where Ian typically played rather than continu-
ing to try to direct Ian to areas with specific math materials. Because Ian
liked dramatic play, his teachers decided to plan specific one-to-one cor-
respondence activities for the dramatic play area. They used colored tape
to divide a cookie sheet into boxes and introduced cookie magnets that fit
into the boxes. Ian was excited when he saw the new materials. Soon he
was carefully placing one cookie into each box on the cookie sheet. Shortly
thereafter, he began using one-to-one correspondence to play math quan-
A crowd of children gathered every day at the farmers’ market in the dra-
matic play area of a preschool classroom. The large basket of fruits and veg-
etables was constantly dumped on the floor. The teacher was disappointed
with the quality of play in the center. Her director suggested that indi-
vidual baskets for each type of food might alleviate the dumping problem.
After the teacher made this small change, she noticed an entirely different
type of play emerging. Children started sorting the food into categories.
Understanding and Applying
for Young Children