DIY Board Game to Teach One to One Correspondence

Does your young child count objects too fast and accidentally skip over items or count the same one twice?


This means that they do not yet have one to one correspondence.


The one to one correspondence definition is counting one number for every object counted. Simple put, it's counting accurately.


One to one correspondence develops for numbers under 5 in the preschool years and by the end of kindergarten, kids are expected to accurately count up to 20 objects.


We made our own board game to practice one to one correspondence and taking turns, which for preschoolers is also a BIG skill.


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Make your own board game in 1 min!


What you'll need:


Magna-tiles -these are the best kids toy I've ever laid eyes on. My kids can play and build with them for hours, which I cannot say about any other toy. If you don't have Magna-tiles, you can always draw a board to play on. But really, I wish I hadn't waited to so long to get them because they're magical.


Dry Erase Foam Dice- These dry erase dice allow me to put what I want to on each side. For my 2 year old who only knows numbers up till 3, I wanted to reinforce those numbers only. This would also make it easier for her to count with one to one correspondence. On each side, I wrote 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, and 3. You can personalize it however you want! We even use them to add an element of surprise to chores and so many other ways.


Two toys of the kids' choosing, could be anything!


Create the board together


Making the board game together will be a great opportunity for practicing one to one correspondence.


We chose to have two separate tracks, but really you can make a board that all players use!


When making two seperate tracks, it was important that both players had the same number of Magna-tiles, or the game wouldn't be fair. This led us to deciding a certain number and counting that many squares together using one to one correspondence.


For counting larger numbers, it is important that children move each piece as they count one more in order to keep track.



Let's take turns and practice counting with one to one correspondence!


How teach turn taking!

For many children, taking turns comes with struggle. Board games are a great way to practice taking turns, because turns are quick and there is opportunity for each player to get many turns.


We also use this "Taking Turns Song" to help remind the littlest what the expectations are in a gentle way.


Taking Turns Song:


Sung to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down"


There is something new I learned, new I learned, new I learned

I know how to wait my turn when I'm playing

I wait and watch until its time, till it's time, till it's time,

First it's yours and then it's mine, taking turns.


Usually by the end of the song, it's close to their turn!




How to play and teach 1:1 correspondence:


Practice One to One Correspondence through play

Each player puts their character of choice on the first square of the game board. In our house we alternate who goes first, but I've also heard of other families who have a general rule that the youngest player gets the first turn.


The first player rolls the foam die and reads the number. (If your child is struggling to remember a certain number, this is a great opportunity to practice it, since they'll have lots of exposure to it over the course of each game).


That player must move their character forward that many steps.


Remind your child to count slowly as they move their character forward one square for every number counted.


Lil Sis (2.5 years) doesn't yet have one to one correspondence so I tried these methods to help her better understand:

  • Pointed to each square as she jumped her character forward, while saying the number with her

  • Holding her hand to guide her character the correct number of steps

  • Invited her to watch Big Sis as she counted her moves forward with proper one to one correspondence

From beginning to end, she did begin counting with greater accuracy, and as we played again and again, she understood much more.


How This Method Teaches One to One Correspondence:

Lots of counting inaccuracy comes with kids rote counting, meaning they're just saying the sequence of numbers they've memorized. In a game, the numbers translate to movements on the board.


By actually having to move each piece only that amount, kids are more focused on counting slowly which leads to greater accuracy.


Taking turns also lets them try the new skill but also have a model for how it is done accurately.


When kids are counting groups of objects by sight or just by pointing to each item (this happens often in number books when there are no actual manipulatives to move) they more easily lose track of the number of objects.


Giving children manipulatives and asking them to physically pick up and move each item will develop the one to one correspondence concept that every number said stands for one more item.


To make it more difficult, you can increase the numbers on the dice. You can even include addition or subtraction equations on the dice with your dry erase marker, to level this up for older children.


Leave a comment below to let me know how you practice one to one correspondence with your child!






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Hi, I'm Ashley!

I'm a teacher Mama on a quest to make learning fun and simple. I want to empower BUSY parents, like you, to teach and connect with their children through play based learning and hands-on activities. 

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