Teaching & Assessing Number Recognition

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  • 0:04 Numbers in the Environment
  • 0:56 Visual Discrimination
  • 1:36 One to One Correspondence
  • 2:17 Subitizing
  • 3:00 Assessment
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ruhi Khan

Ruhi has taught in Elementary Education for 16 years. She currently works as an instructor in higher education and has an Ed.D in Organizational Leadership.

Children need visual and tactile experiences with numbers in order to recognize them. Recognizing numbers in the environment, visual discrimination, developing one to one correspondence, and subitizing will be addressed in this lesson.

Numbers in the Environment

Recognizing that numbers can be seen or heard in the environment is important. Children should be able to recognize that numbers are represented on many items in the world around them, including microwaves, clocks, price tags, etc. These connections can also be made when children are asked to complete a task at school or home.

For example, teachers may ask students to use 3 different colored crayons for an activity or cut 5 different shapes. At home, parents may ask children to put 8 plates on the table when company arrives, or to eat 2 pieces of broccoli before having dessert. Reinforcing these concepts in the classroom will help students to recognize numbers in their environment. When students notice that numbers are an essential part of their life, learning numbers becomes more meaningful. Let's talk about some strategies for teaching and assessing number recognition.

Visual Discrimination

Number recognition learned in preschool or kindergarten is the basis for developing more complex mathematical concepts in later academic years. Having the ability to recognize numbers helps children to understand math concepts that will help them build confidence in mathematics.

Visual discrimination, or distinguishing a number by sight, is an important part of developing number recognition. Some numbers have a similar appearance, like 6 and 9, or 1 and 7. When children acquire the skills of identifying numbers, they are ready for the next step, which is understanding the amount each number represents.

One to One Correspondence

Once a child is able to recognize numbers visually, expand their knowledge to recognize the numerical value of each number. One to one correspondence is the ability to understand that each object counted is one more than the previous number of objects. Developing an understanding of one to one correspondence helps students associate the number of objects to its numerical value. Students can solidify this skill by using manipulatives, which provide students with experiences that move away from the abstract concepts to more concrete concepts. Examples of manipulatives include colored bear counters or colored tiles.


This next step to building number recognition is subitizing, or the ability to group a number of items without counting. Subitizing is an important skill where students can visualize numbers in a pattern that are illustrated on dominoes or dice. Students memorize the pattern of dots and are able to associate that with the numerical representation.

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