Musical numbers

How to make counting fun? Got me. I can tell you how to make it boring, though: Flash cards every day. My kids hate flash cards. I hate flash cards. Flash cards are not fun.

Today I tried a different tactic: I pulled out the toy abacus, which features fruit-shaped beads in fun colors, and we took turns counting the rows. After we counted all the rows left to right, I counted for him right to left, alternating counting forward and backward, all while introducing errors to see if he’d catch them.

He has all but 7 and 10 down; it’s 1 2 3 4 5 6 11 8 9 16. Doesn’t matter which direction you count. Seven and ten are nowhere to be found.

I decided to test a theory. From the time I was a kid, I would get the counting song from Sesame Street stuck in my head at random moments: One two three FOUR five six SEVEN eight NINE ten ELEVEN TWELVE. To this day, I hear it when I count, and have to keep counting to 12 or I feel weird. I’ve sung it to both of my kids since they were babies. Anya doesn’t seem to retain musical cues, but Kai does. So I sang it while counting the next row of beads — except I stopped at 10, though it killed me to do so, because there are only 10 beads.

After a beat, he finished for us: “Eleven twelbe.”

Yes! Time to introduce a silly song.

One little, two little, three little nanas.
Four little, five little, six little, nanas.
Seven little, eight little, nine little nanas.
Ten little rotten nanas.

(This is not as random as it sounds. I spent the weekend trying to get the kids to finish the increasingly overripe bananas before they went moldy. I detest the smell of bananas — overripe ones doubly so.)

“Not rotten!” he said. “Those nanas are good!” So I knew I had his attention.

Later on, I heard him singing: “One little, two little, three little crackers…” So the cue stuck. Now to see if it helps.

3 thoughts on “Musical numbers

  1. You are so good! And thank you on the bananas. Oh how I hate them, smell and all. So…since one of my guys is a numbers whiz (has had his times tables memorized–from listening to times tables “raps) and one isn’t I’ve also been thinking about how to get creative and avoid flash cards. How many times have we been through the times tables flashcards–and it’s in one ear and out the other? A million. So, my home-schooling mom friend sent me “Times Tales,” which makes a story of the times tables. It’s already helping so much; they’re nothing little stories, but he says he likes it. So, yes, down with the flash cards! (And I also hear that Sesame Street song in my head when counting–how else would I be able to count?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will have to check out Times Tales when Anya gets into multiplication. I was good at math until that stage, but I loathed times tables — and I have a knack for memorization. Anya struggles to memorize things, so anything that makes that easier would be wonderful!


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