ERIC Number: ED308018
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Children's Understanding of Counting.
Three studies examined the abstractness of children's mental representation of counting, and their understanding of the cardinality principle, namely, that the last number word used in a count tells how many items there are. In the first experiment, 24 toddlers of 2-3 years counted objects, actions, and sounds. Findings revealed that children counted objects best; most were also able to count actions and sounds. This finding suggests that at a very young age, children begin to develop an abstract mental representation of the counting routine. When asked, "How many?" after counting, only older children gave the last number word used in the count a majority of the time. This suggests that children younger than 3.5 years do not understand the cardinality principle. In the second experiment, children were asked to give a puppet 1 through 6 items from a pile. Older children succeeded at this task. They spontaneously counted how many items they gave, thus showing a clear understanding of the cardinality principle. Younger children succeeded only at giving 1, and sometimes 2, items, and never spontaneously counted. In experiment 3, 18 toddlers were asked several times for 1 through 6 items. Results indicate that children learn the meanings of smaller number words before larger ones within their counting range up to number 3 or 4. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A