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Teaching "Before" in Numbers

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    Teaching "Before" in Numbers

    Looking for suggestions on teaching the number that comes before another. Clearly my little guy understands we brush our teeth before bed, get our shoes on before we go outside, and set the table before dinner. He understands the concept as a whole, but it's day 3 of introducing the concept and he still chooses the number that comes after 90% of the time. I have 9 wooden number cards set up like a number line, and I have him put his finger on the number, then I ask which number comes before X. When it's 9 (I don't put out the 10 card-and I start here deliberately), he gets it right. But after that it's all numbers that come after. He doesn't know left from right, so saying to look to the left doesn't work. Any suggestions are appreciated. Maybe scaffolding even further by creating a big arrow with the word BEFORE would help and then ask which number it points to??

    A number line helps with this. In my class when teaching this concept I pointed to the number on the numberline then added a hand motion (moving hand to the left) as I asked, "What number comes BEFORE ___?" Of course for after numbers I used the same format with the hand motion to the right. Between would be both hands in front of me moving up then down, as a stewardess does to indicate the lighted path to the exits. I used these motions as long as needed to get the concept.


      What about eliminating the number aspect entirely and using patterns and shapes and colors? You can even use the number line format but without the numbers. That way, when you go back to numbers, the process will make sense. I have this I picked up off of Amazon a few years ago to teach relative "positions".

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      If your kiddo is a very "literal" one who thrives when trying to follow a pattern, then the concept of going "backwards" for a number pattern may be driving his mind nuts because so far, he's only learned to go in one direction. He may only understand "before" as relating to time (socks before shoes, teeth before bed). For some kids, the concept of going backwards with numbers is challenging. So, to get the concept down, you might take the "numbers" out of the equation and apply it to something that hasn't been cemented in his brain. Then you can switch it by changing the pattern, or putting in colors. Keep the number line though. That way, when he understands what you want using the colors/shapes, you can put the numbers back in (maybe even put them above).
      Last edited by MBentley; 04-11-2019, 09:12 AM.

      DS (MP2) - 8
      DS (MP1) - 7
      DS (K) - 5
      DD (Adorable distraction) 2


        "as a stewardess does to indicate the lighted path to the exits" -- Michelle, you're fabulous.

        Other tips:

        1. Isolate "Before."
        Do not try to teach "After" at the same time. For a week or two or more, teach only "before the number" exercises. Wait until these are solidly known before moving to "after the number." You can come back to any written exercises about "after" later.

        2. Jumping Number Line
        Try the Jumping Number Line that might be in your SC plans. (If not, you will see this in your next level(s).)
        Write with sidewalk chalk or painting tape a large numberline with low, easy numbers, such as 1-5. Place him on 3. Face him toward the higher end (5). Tell him to jump back to the number that came before 3. "You jumped to 2." Then tell him to step off the number line and look. Was he correct? "Yes, 2 is before 3! Very good." Challenge: Place index cards or post-it notes with numerals 2-5 in a jar or basket. He chooses a number and stands on the number. Then you say, "Jump to the number that came before ___ (whatever number he is standing on)." More fun: You choose a number to stand on. Then he is the teacher and tells you to jump to the number that came before. You jump. You both check. Play this daily, but only BEFORE. Do not add in "after" until "before" is clearly known.


          Thanks, all. I did a number line in chalk on the driveway with shapes and the hand motion. We had significant success. I think I'll repeat that a few times until there's mastery and sub in the numbers.