Number Meaning

Beyond learning a succession of words coming in a certain order the first step a teacher needs to achieve is making sure the child understands the meaning behind each number. The teacher is here to help the child see the connection between the numeral “5”, the word “five”, five days on the calendar or the quantity number, five apples. Doing so will make it easier for the child to comprehend more complex math concepts such as addition or subtraction.

Apple to Zebra’s whale chart is a great way to get your child started on connecting numbers to their meaning. Develop a daily routine with your child where you place together a number of fishes on the pocket chart between 1 and 10 or more.

Let your child count by pointing at each fish and place the final result by attaching the correct number. This will help your child connecting the meaning behind the numbers. Your child will benefit more by being involved. Manipulating and placing the fishes will help your child develop his/ her fine motor skills.

You can add complexity into your counting activities once your pre-schooler can comfortably count from 1-10/20 and recognize the meaning behind the numbers.

Some of the games you can play with Walmond the whale can involve mixing up a random number of red and yellow fishes on the chart and ask the child to determine how many of each type are inside the whale’s belly. This could be an opportunity to introduce first notions of comparison with the use of less and more.


Place the number first on the pocket chart then invite the child to place the correct amount of fish that matches the number in order to reinforce its understanding of each number.

Counting backwards is a good way to add some complexity in your counting exercises. After placing a random number of fish in the whale’s belly take them out one by one while having the child saying the number of fishes left.

Make folder games that require the child to make sets for specific numerals. You can put chocolate chips on cookies, petals on flowers, fish in a bowl, eggs in a nest and many other combination that “will delight” the child.


Make puzzle games where the pieces will fit when the numeral and set are matched.


Make a concentration game with sets and numerals. Write numerals on half of the cards, and draw sets on the other half. Turn the cards face down and let the child match them up.



Make numeral set cards. On heavy paper write the numerals 0-10. Draw a corresponding set on each card. When you hold up each card, ask the child to clap, snap, stomp feet, or do other movements that number of times.