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Only One

Help children learn more about math by recognizing only one element. This activity is called Only One and is easy to do at home.

Activity 8: Recognizing only one


Muffin tin or empty egg carton; small objects such as blocks, plastic eggs or pom-poms that will fit in the cups of muffin tin or carton

Try It Out:

  1. Place the muffin tin and a bowl of objects in front of your child.
  2. Put 1 block into 1 cup of the container as you say, “Look, I’m putting 1 block into this cup.”
  3. Say, “Can you put 1 block in each cup?”
    • Say, “That’s 1” as he fills each cup with 1 block.
    • Help your child fill each cup with 1 block.
    • Throughout the process, continue to point out that each cup has “only 1.”
  4. Point to 1 object in 1 of the cups and ask, “How many are here?” Help your child say “1” or “only 1.”

Making the Most of This Activity:

  1. Try this activity using different objects and containers.
  2. Try it during other routines. Your child might help you put a letter in the mailbox. You can say, “Only 1 letter” as you drop it in. Or, at lunch point out, “1 sippy cup.” At bedtime, notice: “Only 1 teddy bear!”


Was your child able to identify only 1 item when you asked? If not, she may not be quite ready for this activity and you can try again later.

Tell Us About It:

Go to the online forum and share your experiences with other parents, get ideas, and learn more!


American Institute for Research


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