Friday, August 20, 2010

Real Counting!

Grace has been doing something like counting for months now, with numbers going up into the twenties, but tonight Grace did her first confirmable real counting. Here's the interaction:
We're looking at a drawing of a funny man I drew (this is a game we play -- draw something funny then name what's wrong with the picture). This particular man had 6 arms.
Grace: What's funny about the man?
Me: What do you think?
Grace: I not know.
Me: How many arms does he have.
Grace: 4!
Me: Count them.
Grace: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6! He have 6 arms!
Counting is of course a poem and an algorithm (point to one item at a time while reciting the poem without repeating), and I've often wondered if to Grace it was merely a poem and a gesture (point to items while repeating the poem until bored). Tonight, Grace very clearly was using the algorithm correctly. As an extra bonus, I got to see that she hadn't actually memorized the appearance of 6 items as a unit -- her immediate fuzzy-math brain answered "4!" and only after counting did she arrive at the actual number (with dice games and things I've often been convinced that she was memorizing the number-of-dots as shapes rather than as a group of objects she counted).

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