How much? and How many? are fundamental “Big Idea” questions that are so embedded in our everyday life that we often are not conscious that in fact we are doing math. We think of counting the children on the bus at the end of a field trip as a safety issue; or our focus is on balancing storage space and our family’s eating habits when we calculate how many juice boxes, yogurts or cans of soup we want to stock up on during a sale.
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Daniela Giralt at Gunsaulus Elementary, a 2010-11 Early Math participant, used the book Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd to help her preschoolers explore the Big Ideas of counting. First in the whole group, children added dots to a large dog as Ms. Giralt read the story. During the reading, she stopped to ask, “How many stains do you see now? How many stains do you think there will be if we add one more? How many stains are left after the dog takes a bath?