Series: Book Ideas

Enjoy Counting Activities and Math Fun with a Traditional Mexican Festival

Every July, people in Oaxaca, Mexico, come together to dance, sing, and make music in a vibrant festival called the Guelaguetza. The celebration is kicked off by a grand parade. In Count Me In! by Cynthia Weill we follow this procession of Mexican folk art and culture, with colorful illustrations of figurines by the Aguilar Sisters. As one person is followed by two, then three, then four, and so on, we are invited to a beautiful and whimsical look at a Mexican tradition. And we are also treated to a plethora of math concepts.

The book might seem simple enough but look again and notice all of the detail in these beautifully hand-crafted figurines. There is plenty to begin a healthy discussion. You can ask, “What else is there three/tres of?” Once children really start looking, they will begin to see that there are also three moustaches, three sombreros, three instruments, and any number of other sets of objects that are also in threes. They are all the same quantity even though men, moustaches, and sombreros are all different in other ways.

Now that you’ve counted and seen things in the book, count and see things all around you using a dot cube to make it a game. Have children roll the dot cube and find things they see around them that match their roll. For example, if a child rolls a 4, he/she has to find a set of 4 things: 4 windows, 4 cabinets, 4 door knobs, 4 picture frames, 4 pillows, etc.

Fingers are great tools for counting. Roll a dot cube and ask your children to show you that many with their fingers. Can they show the same quantity in a different way? Take turns with the children. Can they find different, non-traditional ways to show the number with their fingers?
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All of these can be great start to playing around with counting concepts. The book is in English and Spanish and so it provides opportunities for English-language learners along with those interested in counting in both languages.

Find more ideas tagged for English language learners.