Instruction to develop number words is regarded as very important. This is because the facility with number words provides an important basis for the development of what are called ‘early arithmetical strategies’ (The first strategies the children use in additive and subtractive situations.).
Children encounter number words frequently in senses such as their age, house number or in conversations referring to simple quantities, such as “There are three cats”.
As well as encountering number words children will also encounter number words in the context of a sequence of words, for example one, two three. This is referred to as a number word sequence.
Forward Number Word Sequences (FNWS)
- NWS differ from counting activities. Counting activities involve coordinating a NWS with an item in order to solve a task such as “how many?” or an addition or subtraction task.
- FNWS involve saying number words in a sequence and are sometimes referred to as “rote counting”.
- FNWS can also involve saying a sequence starting at a number other than one.
- Many students need a “running start” i.e. dropping back to one or a comfortable number word when asked to start at a number word. This is also noted when a child is asked to give the number word after a given number word.
- Being facile with FNWS is an important aspect of early number knowledge.
Backward Number Word Sequences (BNWS)
- BNWS usually progresses more slowly than FNWS
- BNWS involves saying a number words sequence backward and producing a number word before a given number word.
- Facility with BNWS usually indicates that the student has a strong knowledge of the number word sequences by ones.Teaching points
- Don’t underestimate the value of practising number word sequences
- Practise the number word sequence forwards and backwards
- Practise number word sequences from various starting points
- Link number word sequences to other progressions
Activities Recommended by the Children of Humbie Primary:
We love practising our number word sequences by moving. In this picture P4-7 are using space hoppers to count in multiples:
When we are good at counting, we use a pendulum to improve our speed. The shorter the string the faster we have to count. This is great fun in pairs – one person counts and the other person listens. We talk about mistakes and difficult numbers. We learn by talking about these:
Saying number word sequences in different voices is great fun. Sometimes we all count together. Sometimes we count round the class.