My Secret Weapon to Teach Early Math Skills

If you are teaching your young one early math skills, maybe you should head to the toy store!  My secret weapon for teaching kids skills such as one to one correspondence, counting, subitizing, doubling, and adding is Parcheesi!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.If you make a purchase from Amazon, I receive a very small fee at no extra cost to you.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi


First of all, if you are unfamiliar with the game, I will very briefly describe how the game is played.  Your four pawns are at home, where you wait until you roll a five or a two dice combination of five to enter the board. The game uses two dice to indicate your spaces to move.  You can add the dice together to move one pawn or let two pawns share the dice combinations.  You have to go all the way around the board and get all four pawns to your home to win.  Along the way, you can block players and capture players.  It’s a great strategy game!


Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi


How does Parcheesi help with all of the math skills mentioned?  Let me explain.


Counting:  When the child rolls the dice s/he can count the dots on each die to figure out the value of each one.  Your child can point to the dots while counting. This gives your child a concrete way of practicing counting with an authentic purpose (to see how far to move).


With enough practice, s/he may begin to recognize that three dots is “3” without even having to count the dots.  S/he is subitizing, or recognizing a number quantity quickly without the need to count.  With enough hands on practice counting, s/he will begin to do this automatically.  By playing this game your child is getting a lot of practice counting and subitizing.


Adding:  Since this is a game that allows two dice to be added together to determine the number of spaces to be moved, your child is also practicing adding.  With the help of the dots, your child has a visual representation of the numbers in which to count.  The more practice your child has with objects they can point to and add together (the dots), they will naturally begin to remember some of these math facts and also create a visual representation of number quantities which they will use to figure out new problems.



Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi



One to One Correspondence: This skill is practiced in two ways. First, when your child counts the dots on the dice, s/he should only count each dot once.  For example, if your child rolled a six and counts one the of dots more than once, s/he may incorrectly say there are seven dots.  Encourage your child to count again making sure s/he doesn’t count any dots more than once. With sufficient experience your child will become very good at counting each dot only once.  S/he will likely figure out a strategy that works for him or her to keep track of which dots s/he already counted to avoid over or under counting.


Another way your child is practicing one to one correspondence is when s/he moves their pawn.  Your child can advance one space per number. So, if s/he rolled a six, s/he can only move six spaces.  Young kids may skip spaces or count faster than they move.  Encourage your child to count slowly and move the pawn as she counts.  Sometimes it helps if you, the parent, point with your finger to the next space so your child doesn’t skip spaces. With enough help and practice, your child will learn to move one space per number rolled.


Doubles:  When your are working with two dice there is the chance that you roll two of the same number. You can introduce the term, “doubles”.  For example, if your child rolled two twos, you can explain that two of the same number is called “doubles”, so s/he just rolled double twos!  Not only are you introducing a new term, but you are also building a beginning foundation for multiplication. 

Eventually, your child will commit the these facts to memory.  Having double facts in their memory banks gives them a reference point when figuring out new facts. For example, if your child knows that 5+5=10,  s/he can can use that knowledge plus pattern recognition to quickly figure out that 5+6=11. 




Truthfully, there are many games that can also help your child practice these skills.  Any game that has a board with individual spaces and uses dice can do this!  I like Parcheesi because it tends to be a little longer in terms of play time, giving more practice! My kids also love that they can capture me and send me back to home, keeping them motivated and excited to play.  So next time your child complains about math homework, maybe taking a game break might help :)



To purchase Parcheesi on Amazon:



Empowering Parents to Teach- Counting to fifty

Math in Literature: Counting to Fifty


Is your little on learning how to count to fifty?  I found two fun books to help support their learning!  Read on and I will tell you more about them.


The Long, Long Line by Tomoko Ohmura

Empowering Parents to Teach- Counting to Fifty

In this book, you see a long line of animals who are all waiting for something.  That something will not be revealed until the end.  Starting with fifty, each animal is numbered according to their place in line until you reach number one.  It counts down instead of counting up.  If your little one is new to counting down, you could start at the beginning of the line (end of the book) to teach counting up to fifty.  I like that it is versatile, giving you the option of counting up or down depending on how you choose to read it. Also, if your child is learning how to identify bigger numbers, you can have the child attempt to read some of the numbers along the way.


It’s also really fun to see what the animals were waiting for at the end.  The author builds anticipation through the animal’s simple dialogue to one another!



Robot Burp Head Smartypants! by Annette Simon

Empowering Parents to Teach- Coutning to 50

In this very silly book, two robots are trying to talk but they keep burping in the middle of their sentences.  Belching is usually met with a lot of laughs from little ones, which gets their attention!  Among the things the robot is trying to say is his numbers.  One robot manages to count to ten and then counts on by tens up to the number fifty.  So instead of counting each and every number up to fifty, they can practice skip counting.  Skip counting is a very useful skill, especially as they learn bigger and bigger numbers.


Put the two books together and your child is shown every number from one to fifty, how to count down, and counting by tens.  It’s a great combination!


Math and Science Connections: One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge

One Watermelon Seed


This book is useful for:

Math: Counting up to 10, Counting by tens, Counting to 100
Science: Plants, Seeds, Ecosystems

Just a few days ago on one of our trips to the library my son really wanted the book The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, but after searching the library’s catalog we realized the book was checked out.  That’s when we came across the book One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge.  He really enjoyed this new book and it was a great book to use to support math knowledge.  I’m glad we found it!


Math Connections:

Counting up to 10- The story has 2 children planting a garden. First they add 1 seed, then 2, then 3, and so on.  Underneath the text the author writes the numbers in order so they kids see each number being added on sequentially.  We pointed to each number as we read them. Since it builds and repeats, it gives a lot of practice saying each number.


Counting by tens- After the children count up to 10 and the seeds grow into a bountiful harvest, the book continues on counting the fruits and vegetables by tens. Once again, the author adds on sequentially. First you see 10, then 10 and 20, then 10, 20, 30 until they reach 100. The numbers are bright and colorful. But, even better, when they reach 80 the author clearly groups the vegetables into groups of 10. For example, when they reach 80 the main character picked eighty string beans. The illustrator clearly shows 8 groups of 10 string beans.  You can show your child how this grouping allows to quickly count. They visually see what counting by tens is all about! There is a visual connection to the skill of counting by tens.  The numbers 90 and 100 are also clearly grouped by tens.


Counting up to 100- There are like a gazillion books that count from 1 to 10. But it is always nice to find books that count higher. This book does count up to 100 however, after 10 it does not count every single number up to 100. As mentioned, it begins counting by tens after it reaches 10.  If you wanted to count the ears of the corn at the end of the book, there are 100 of them! You could have them count the corn to practice their numbers up to 100.


Teaching tip:  If you are counting the objects in the picture with your child, encourage them to point to each object as they count or if they are very young you can point and count.  One of the earliest math skills kids learn is “one to one correspondence”.  One to one correspondence is the understanding that you only count an object one time.  This takes time to learn.   Have you ever seen a child count three objects and say there are five because s/he counted two things more than once?  That child is learning one to one correspondence.  Keep practicing pointing and counting an object only one time when your child is interested and they will pick up this skill.


Science Connections

Seed and Plants:  When the children plant the seeds and the plants begin to grow, the illustrator shows the roots growing in the ground and the sprouts growing up.  It’s a very good visual for seeing the parts of the plant. In the book, we also see the children watering the plants and weeding the garden. This can create discussion on what plants need to live and how to care for them. You can ask the child, “Why do we weed the garden?”


Ecosystems: There are great illustrations that can spark discussion. You also see worms digging tunnels in the dirt, a bird with a worm in its mouth, bugs in the air and on the ground, etc. Encourage your child to think about how the living and non living elements help each other.


Looking for another great book that counts to 100?


*Amazon affiliate links- If you make a purchase, I receive a small portion of the sale at no extra cost to you.


1 2 3 Peas by Keith Baker is incredible! 

You can count each and every pea individually. And when you are on the final page, each pea holds up its number so you can count and see each number from 1 to 100 also! This is one of my new favorite books!



Check your local library for this book. It is also available on Amazon (just click on the picture)

Another great book to try for fun: