Paint Swatch Number Activity – One to One Coorespondence

At the risk of sounding so completely cheesy and cliche, my favorite part of teaching (and one of my favorite parts of parenting) is seeing kids “get it.” Seeing their eyes light up when they understand that 11 comes after 10. Seeing them get so excited when they write their name properly (still trying to find a fun activity to get Dylan to write his name!). The joy in their faces is amazing (to me at least) and the idea that I had a hand in them understanding that is indescribable. I miss it so, so much!

We have been working on numbers with Dylan and he has a book from Usbourne called “1001 Animals to Spot.” Each page has a different habitat and tells you how many of each animal to find. He is currently obsessed with it (he goes through phases where we read the same 2 books every night for a few weeks) and can recognize all the numbers 1-10 (that’s as high as they go). But he doesn’t quite have the one-to-one correspondence yet, which is fine. He has some time!

What is one-to-one correspondence, you ask? It’s the ability to actually count items. Kids Dylan’s age can count, but they’re not actually counting when they learn numbers. They are essentially memorizing the numbers and their order. Children with one-to-one correspondence demonstrate that they understand that this duck is 1, this one makes 2, this one makes 3, etc. Right now Dylan will point to the animals as he counts which is a start, but he does that because we do it. He sometimes skips ducks or counts a duck a few times.

You can also use this activity a step further by adding and subtracting, and I’ll show you how at the end.

I took paint swatches from Home Depot (free, but I always feel like I have to do it discreetly) and leftover glass gems I had from 2 other projects. I wrote numbers on each color and would hand him a certain amount of gems. Then I would tell him to count the gems and show me on the paint swatch how many he had. He started to place the gems on the cards if he could.

(It is impossible to get an in action picture of this kid that isn’t blurry)

If you want to work on addition, you can take two paint swatches and a plus sign (I wrote it on a larger paint chip, along with an equals sign), and find the paint Swatch with the answer. Easy enough, right? 🙂

He really loved playing with the gems and even telling me which number was which. He always surprises me when I give him these activities. He goes right ahead and does them on his own – making up his own rules. 

Happy teaching!


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