Art and Math · Numbers

Counting to Ten

Table of Papers
Setting the Tables

Today I did a numbers project with students who haven’t quite reached the number 10 yet in their studies. They have gotten as far as number 8. These are Pre-k students, all around the age of four years old.

Two hands on a page
Perfect Fit

My thinking here is that I want these students to create a visual that connects the numbers that they are learning to the fingers that they count on.

Five Fingers
Five Fingers

This is standard size copy paper, folded in half, so that students might be nudged into tracing each hand  in each half of the page.

Boy's Hand

Here’s something I found interesting: I’ve worked on this project with three pre-school teachers so far, and each of them were surprised that the students did so well with the tracing.

Girls Hand


These children sometimes mentioned that they might need help tracing their other hand, but no one actually received or needed help.

IMG_0338After tracing, students labeled their finger tracing with numbers, then crayons were distributed.


I asked students to trace over their pencil lines.

Numbered Fingers

It was quite wonderful to see how carefully they considered their color choices for their numbers and hands.

More colors on traced hands

What started happening next in this class was a complete surprise to me.

IMG_0341Some students started to embellish their handiwork with ornament and drawings.

Happy Hands
Happy Hands

When these happy faces started showing up on the hands, I was delighted. What a great image for this student to carry around in her head, happy hands counting her numbers.

These four year-old students were completely engaged in this project, and I was enamored by their work. If you are interested in knowing more about why I would do this project, look at an article I’ve written, called Starting at the Beginning which was published in an on-line teaching artists journal ALT/Space.  This journal is full of a diverse cross-section of artists who are doing all sorts of dynamic, educational work. I highly recommend that you take a look.

More Happy Hands
More Happy Hands

In the meantime, smile when you count.

Addendum: April 12, 2015   Just came across this article that discusses why students should use their fingers for counting.


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