Son: Ohhhh! A bus!
Me: Right. What type of bus?
Son: A city bus.A little background knowledge here: He loves trucks! Let me rephrase that. He loves anything larger than a car, has an engine, is big, makes a lot of noise, is big, does construction, is big, intakes diesel, etc. I've seen many kids share these interests, especially when the garbage man does his rounds in our neighborhood. You'd think the garbage man was passing out ice cream or something (and he doesn't need that silly Ice Cream truck music either). We have multiple truck books that get frequent use before nap and bedtime. We have a surplus of toy trucks and Legos, recently added to by the most generous, wonderful, and great Fawn. You're the best!
Son: Ohhh! A school bus!
Me: You're right!
Son: We've seen two buses!
Me: I know. Look what's coming up behind the school bus.
Son: Another bus.
Me: And what type of bus is that?
Son: A city bus.
Me: So how many buses have we seen?
Me: That's right. We've seen 2 city buses and 1 school bus, so we've seen a total of...I pause for him to fill in the blank.
Son: Three!We're still stopped at the red light and have a little time before the green light. I turn around and illustrate this again with my fingers, because lately he's been doing really well identifying the numbers one through five on a single hand. Since we saw two different types of buses, I use two hands. I hold up on hand with two fingers up and say, "We've seen two city buses" and on the other hand I hold up one finger saying, "and we've seen one school bus. So we've seen a total of how many buses?"
I expect him to say "three" because it's fresh in his mind, but he pleasantly surprises me and I can see his eyes moving across my fingers and mentally counting the fingers to verify the word 'three' matches up with Dad's fingers. "Three." he says.
The light turns green and we're on our way. We have less than five minutes until we get to preschool. Of course, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for more buses. No buses. Shucks. However, we pull into the parking lot of the preschool and park. Before I exit the car to get him out, I turn around and want to try something. Simply for fun.
Me: So we saw two city buses [I'm holding up two fingers on one hand]. What if we saw two school buses [I hold up two fingers on my second hand]. How many buses would we have seen?
Me: Are you sure? Count my fingers.
Son: One... two... three... four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, te...
Me: Okay, silly. [holding up two fingers on each hand again] If we saw two city buses and two school buses, how many total buses would we see?
Son: Three.I left it at that. He's content with the concrete. It's not about future counting for him. It's about what he just experienced, what's relevant, what's applicable and what's associated with his interests. I made a small attempt at the abstract, just for fun. There's no need to push this any further. He's convinced we saw three buses and he's right. He doesn't care about a fourth bus that we didn't see. Plus, it's time for preschool. Man, I love vacation. I get to have conversations like this with my son. It doesn't get any better than that.
*Read what happened two days later in Buses [Day 2].