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Counting, Numerals, and Quantity

April 6, 2022 | Sossi Essajanian

“One, two, three, four, seven, eight, nine, eleven, sixteen…”

Children can often be heard reciting a sequence of numbers as they “count” objects. When we ask them, “So how many are there?” Instead of the total, we may be greeted by the repeating of the sequence “One, two, three, four, seven, eight…”

There are many numeracy concepts embedded in this process of counting and determining the total. However the understanding is in how each number “feels” or what it looks like; this is the foundation of later numeracy work, especially quantifying and calculating.

In this process there are many elements at work:

  • Counting language (the names of numbers)
  • The process of counting (saying numbers in sequence)
  • Connecting number names, numerals, and quantities
  • Counting principles (say only 1 number for each object; the last number you say is the total; the order of the objects doesn’t change the total)


In preschool, some numeracy work is connecting a quantity to its numeral. Children see a number then state its name. The connection comes next: finding a corresponding set of objects. For example, seeing the numeral 4 and choosing the picture card with 4 animals on it. Usually this involves counting to check but usually children just “see” quantities 1-3 as a set so they just know it!

This is called subitizing.


Connecting numeral and quantity begins in preschool and develops through Kindergarten and in years to come.

So many authentic experiences support children’s work in connecting numeral and quantity. These include playing finger movement games, using numeral dice, finger counting, making your own number line, and number puzzles.

The key is: keep counting!

Sossi Essajanian

Teacher, Sky Class

Sossi Essajanian is excited to continue her teaching and learning journey at the Mustard Seed School. She began teaching at the United Nations International School where she worked with children and colleagues from around the world. This inspired her to take a primary teaching position abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she lived and worked for two years.

Ms. Essajanian has a passion for supporting children’s social/emotional skills and learning through a loving and caring classroom community. These are built on creating shared understandings and opportunities for children to identify and express their feelings and of those around them. She believes in creating experiences through pair and group work where learning blossoms through social experiences.

Ms. Essajanian also enjoys reading and talking about books and continues to pursue her second passion: editing. She’s worked in various editorial capacities in newspapers, magazines, and books. She was recently excited to serve as the development editor of a children’s book about engineering and is looking forward to leading some tinkering investigations of her own with her students!

In her free time Ms. Essajanian runs, swims laps, and likes to take long walks to explore the world around her.

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