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Mix and Count

child mixing

About this Video

This video shows 22-month-old Waylon helping his grandmother mix pancake batter for breakfast. His 6-year-old brother, Luke, and his father talk off camera. In the video, we see adults using strategies for interaction that help Waylon learn about the world.

By letting him help stir the batter, his grandmother encourages him to practice fine-motor skills and use eye-hand coordination during an everyday activity. He is able to hold the bowl—he even moves it away from her so he can hold it alone—and grip the whisk and move it back and forth in the batter as he keeps his eyes on what he is doing. His way of holding and moving the whisk and the bowl are typical for his age. (So is his desire to do it with no adult help!)

Before the video began, Waylon’s grandmother told him that they would each have a turn to stir while counting to 20. Luke is familiar with this approach and explains to his father that each cook will “get the same amount” of time to stir. The counting strategy is meant to help Waylon take turns. It also helps him practice counting. The fact that he has been learning to count at home is apparent when he joins in counting to 20. He says some numbers aloud and seems to be whispering or mouthing others. Many children Waylon’s age are interested in learning number order and may enjoy having a chance to count aloud.

When the count reaches 20, Waylon’s father cheers for him. The cheer and Grandma’s statement, “Good work!” signal to Waylon that his turn is over. Grandma also tells him that it is now her turn to stir. (After the video ended, he let her take the bowl.) Understanding how turn-taking works—and being able to wait for a turn—can be challenges even for children much older than Waylon. Experiences such as this one can help a child understand that a “turn” has a beginning and an end and that a person may be able to have several turns during an activity.

Waylon’s grandmother and father may have missed an opportunity to directly acknowledge his attempt to count. However, by pausing to hear his words and by repeating some of the numbers he says, his grandmother shows that she is aware that he is using what he knows about numbers.



Grandma: Ready? Okay. Start —

Waylon moves the whisk in the batter while pulling the bowl toward himself after brushing away his grandmother’s hand.

Grandma: One, two —

Luke: (off camera, to his father) They each get the same amount.

Grandma: Three, four —

Luke: Hey, why are my shoes here?

Waylon: Five.

Dad: (To Luke) You can put them on here.

Grandma: Six, seven—

Waylon lifts the whisk and shakes it slightly.

Grandma: Eight, nine —

Waylon: (Whispering) Ten.

He continues to stir with a forward-and-back motion.

Grandma: Ten (laughing), eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourt —

Waylon: Fifteen.

Grandma: Fifteen (laughing), sixteen —

Waylon: (shifting the position of his hand on the whisk) Sixteen.

Grandma: Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

Dad: (to Waylon) Yay!

Grandma: Great work! Grammy’s turn. (reaching for the bowl)

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three and How They Were Met

This list shows how Waylon meets standards in the birth-to-three guidelines through engagement in a family activity.

Developmental Domain 2: Physical Development & Health
Fine Motor
Children demonstrate the ability to coordinate their small muscles in order to move and control objects.

  • Indicators for children (21-36 months):
    • Begins to use more complicated hand movements
    • Uses hand-eye coordination in a more controlled manner.
  • Action: Waylon grips and moves the whisk back and forward to stir the batter. He pulls the bowl so that it is in front of him. He watches what he is doing and keeps the whisk in the batter except when he lifts it up to shake it slightly.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Quantity & Numbers
Children demonstrate awareness of quantity, counting, and numeric competencies.

  • Indicators for children (21-36 months): Understands progressive number order, e.g., recites the number series to ten.
  • Action: Waylon shows that he is aware of the 1-20 counting sequence by chiming in with several numbers as his grandmother counts. He seems to skip 14 but he is aware of the number names, at least through 16.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Home

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Reviewed: 2017