This is an attempt to straighten out an important misconception while teaching young children how to sequence the basic numbers from 0 through 9 (also known as "digits"), and then extend that to 20. Wait, did I miss something?
As a matter of fact, I didn’t, and that’s because it is everyone else who is missing something: the basic numbers are not 1 through 10; they are, in fact, 0 through 9. The number 10 is not related to the numbers 0 through 9, because these are the “single digit numbers” and 10, if you’ve looked at it closely, is a 2 digit number. Therefore, before your students tackle the number 10, they should really be looking at the digits from 0 through 9.
Why all this obsession with the number 0? Doesn’t it only mean “nothing?” Well, no, actually, 0 does not in fact mean “nothing.” If you went back and studied the origin of the word “zero,” you would so it comes from the Sanskrit word “sifr,” which means “empty.” This number origined over 4,000 years ago in India and made it’s way to us via Egypt, Mesopotamia and then Italy; it arrived in English relatively late, in the year 1598. This is an important thing to know, because if children associate “0” with “nothing,” they will devalue its meaning and not take it seriously. It also means that they will not understand our base 10 number system, because they will believe that 10 is a number that belongs with 1 through 9 (it doesn’t) and that because zero is synonymous with “nothing,” it is therefore unimportant.
This activity is a means to help young children learn the order of the first ten digits (0 - 9, if you’ve been paying attention) through some fun “task cards.” Simply print out the different “What’s missing?” activities and laminate them, then print out the digit cards (laminate and cut them out as well) and have your students place the correct digit cards on the “What’s Missing?” question.
Not only is this great practice for your students, but it’s a wonderful assessment tool for you as well: all you have to do is sit down with a child, place a few of the sheets in front of him or her, hand over a set of the digit cards and ask the child to choose the correct ones and place them in the right order.
You can also scaffold a child by giving the child the correct cards without telling them where they go. For example, if you have the task “blank, blank, 7,” give him/her the 5 and 6 cards and see if s/he places them in the correct order. Of course, this won’t work so well if the 7 is in the center and you hand over the 5 and 8, although asking if it’s in ascending or descending order will most likely help.
This set takes care of all numbers from 0 - 20. You need something higher? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll hook you up.
So that’s my rap: yes, I know that it doesn’t have any written component, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think that writing has any place in the pre-k and kindergarten curriculum, but then again, I don’t do language arts. I do math; nothing but math.