As children practice counting, they begin to recognize that one object represents the quantity of one. Rote counting is very different, where the child counts as high as she or he can, but does not necessarily associate a numeral with an amount. For children to count objects accurately, they must slow down and count each object once. This requires organization and focus. Counting with a one to one correspondence is an imperative skill that takes time to master.
The Spindle Box on the Math shelf focuses on this skill of counting objects. A child sat with the spindle box, slowly looking at the number on the box and said softly, “One”. He counted out one spindle into his hand and said “One”. He placed the spindle into the compartment designated “1”. He examined the numeral above the next compartment and said, “Two”. Taking a full handful of spindles, he tried to place one spindle from the handful into the compartment marked “2”, but dropped some spindles on the floor. A friend next to him helped him to pick up the spindles.
“Do one spindle,” she said. She picked up one spindle and said, “One,” and transferred it into her other hand. She picked up a second spindle and transferred this spindle into her other hand. “See, two,” she informed the boy and held out the two spindles to her peer. He placed them into the compartment with the numeral “2” above it. Moving on to the next compartment, he looked at the numeral and looked at the friend. She stood next to him and said, “Three. That’s three.” He grinned and said, “You wanna help me with my work?” She picked up a spindle and began to count out as she transferred one spindle at a time between her hands, “One, two, three….three spindles!” They both giggled and continued on to the next compartment.