This simple interaction between caregiver and toddler is a demonstration of very early mathematical concepts, or “precursor concepts.” The caregiver assists the toddler in putting balls down tubes, eventually coming to one that doesn’t quite fit. Yes, this is working with the attribute of size. But it also creates a pattern with the balls and tubes.
We see the child and the teacher establish a pattern: the child drops the ball into the tube, hears the clunk of the ball hitting what’s below, and then looks in the tube and sees the last ball she dropped. This goes on until the large balls are introduced and the pattern is broken. The teacher is highly instrumental in establishing and reinforcing this pattern.