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One Dot, Two Dots

Read more about helping young children learn math with fun activities. Classify objects into sets of 1 and 2 with One Dot, Two Dots.

Activity 19: Sorting objects into sets of one and two


2 paper plates (1 plate with 1 large dot drawn on it, the other plate with 2 large dots) and child-safe objects or snacks for sorting (such as apple slices, spoons, pieces of cereal, toy cars, or blocks)

Try It Out:

  1. Place the 2 plates in front of your child.
  2. Say, “Let’s play the 1 Dot, 2 Dots game.” Point to the plate with 1 dot and say, “Look, this plate has 1 dot. I will put 1 apple slice on this plate.” (Do so.)
  3. Point to the plate with 2 dots and say, “This plate has 2 dots. I will put 2 apple slices on this plate.” (Do so.) Then point to each plate in turn, saying: “1 apple slice. 2 apple slices.”
  4. Remove the apple slices and say, “Now it’s your turn to play.” Alternate giving your child 1 and 2 apple slices, and each time ask her to put what you give her on the correct plate. Help your child count the apple slices she puts on each plate.
  5. If your child can correctly place objects into sets of 1 and 2, try giving her 3 and then 4 objects to sort, using additional plates showing more dots as needed.

Making the Most of This Activity:

  1. Try the activity using different objects or at different times of day.
  2. Take the number plates with you on an outing. Sort pebbles and leaves on a walk or at the park.


Was your child able to sort 1 and 2 objects onto the paper plates? If not, start with just 1 object. Then, move onto sets of 2, 3, and 4 after your child has learned how to do the game with 1 object.


American Institute for Research

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