Skills practiced in interventions

The focus of practicing is on the core mathematical skills (Aunio & Räsänen, 2015) that form the base for later mathematics learning, more specifically, mathematical relational skills, counting skills and addition and subtraction skills. Children learn concepts in relation to comparisons (e.g. more or less) of quantities and numbers, place value and the base-10 system.

Children practice reciting number words forward and backward in various ways: for example, in different steps (e.g. 2, 4, 6 … or 9, 7, 5 …) and starting from a given number (e.g. start from 5 and count up to 11). Many activities focus on practicing number words, number symbols and quantity correspondence. Ten-frames are used to structure numbers: ‘seven is five and two’. Using shortened counting, there is no need to always start counting from one, which is a slow and error-prone strategy. Shortened counting based on fives and tens are emphasized, thus introducing children to five-frames and ten-frames. In addition, counting principles (e.g. one-to-one correspondence and cardinality) are strengthened.

In addition and subtraction interventions, children learn key concepts and different calculation strategies (e.g. add 1, add 2, bonds of ten, doubles) and master towards fluent calculation skills. Games are used for practicing addition and subtraction calculation strategies and facts. For example, a child has to solve a calculation problem either using concrete materials, calculation strategies introduced or to memorize a fact.

Examples of games:

In the Crocodile game, a child has to tell how many bits of food there are on the plates. The child then places the crocodile so that its mouth opens in the direction of more food. The child describes the comparison situation, for example, that four is more than two (Mathematical relational skills and counting 0–10).

 In the Recognize the number game, a child has to tell the number to his peer (Mathematical relational skills and counting 0–10).

In the Battleship’ game, children read and recognize big numbers after they have been introduced to hundreds and tens using concrete materials (Mathematical relational skills and counting 0–1000). 


  • Aunio, P. & Räsänen, P. (2015). Core numerical skills for learning mathematics in children aged five to eight years – A working model for educators. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2014.996424.
  • Clements, D. H. & Sarama, J. (2009). Learning and teaching early math. The learning trajectories approach. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Sarama, J. & Clements, D. H. (2009). Early childhood mathematics education research. Learning trajectories for young children. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Wright, R. J., Ellemor-Collins, D., & Tabor, P. D. (2012). Developing number knowledge. Assessment, teaching & intervention with 7-11-year-olds. London: SAGE.