Conservation of fingers and toes

Zoe likes to play with my hands. She will examine the fingers, moving them around and pulling on them. And I, being who I am, find myself thinking, “Fingers are a great math manipulative. I should seize the moment and make some math talk.” Luckily, so far she hardly ever objected. Here is a conversation that the two of us recently had.

Me: How many fingers do I have on each hand?
Z: Five and five.
Me: And how many fingers do I have on both hands?
Z: Ten.
Me: Now what if I give one finger from the left hand to the right hand, how many fingers will the left hand have then?
Z: (Hiding one finger on my left hand) Four.
Me: And the right hand?
Z: (Closing the first four) Six.
Me: And together there will still be…
Z: Ten!

We then moved some more fingers from one hand to the other to make different combinations that make 10. And then Zoe exclaimed, “And if we move one toe from a foot and make it a finger, you’ll still have 20 fingers and toes!”

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About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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One Response to Conservation of fingers and toes

  1. Friek555 says:

    If I had children, I would be so proud if they figured out things like this on their own! You are definitely raising some future mathematicians here!

    Like

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