How Many Bears on the Bed?

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early mathematical thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
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How Many Bears on the Bed?

Purpose/Skills

  • To solve problems using 1, 2, and 3 objects. (Children should be able to identify quantities of 1, 2, and 3, and count to 3, before doing this activity.)

Materials
A construction paper rectangle for a bed; 3 bear counters for each child (Generic counters can represent bears.) Children's book that has three characters.

Vocabulary
How many
1
2
3

Literature Suggestion
Read Peace at Last by Jill Murphy, a version of The Three Bears, or another book that has three characters.

Warm-Up
  • Invite children to play "Copy Cat" with you.
  • Tell them that you are going to do things and count, and they must be copycats and do what you do.
  • Clap 2 times and say, "This time I'll be the copycat." Then turn around and clap 2 times again. "Let's do it together. This time I'll slap my knees and count. Then you be copy cats and slap your knees and count."
  • Continue, using 1, 2, and 3 actions, with the children mimicking your words and actions each time.

Procedure

  • Teach children how to solve problems using objects. Use the bear counters and have children repeat your phrases and actions.
  • Say, "One little bear went to bed," and put 1 bear on the bed. (Children duplicate.) "One more little bear went to bed. Add another bear. Let's count 1, 2. Now there are 2 little bears in bed. 1 more little bear went to bed. Add the third bear. Now there are 3 little bears in bed."
  • "Show me 2 bears in the bed." Help children count out 2 and get them in the bed. Put 1 more bear in the bed. "How many bears are in the bed?" (3) "One little bear got out of bed. What do you do?" (Take 1 out.) "How many bears are still in bed?" (Children should count and say 2.) Continue with simple problems until children are comfortable moving the 3 bears.
Enrichment
Keep the number of bears at 3 and add a chair (a paper circle of a different color from the rectangular bed) to the setting. Have children use the counters and "chair" to solve problems like the following: "One little bear was in bed and 2 little bears were on the chair. 1 little bear got out of the bed and sat on the chair. How many bears were on the chair? On the bed?"

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can follow directions and use up to 3 objects to solve simple problems.
  • In Process - Child can count to 3, but experiences difficulty using objects to solve simple problems.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet count to 3 or use objects to solve simple problems.
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