Linking Quantities and Symbols in Early Numeracy Learning


  • Jo-Anne LeFevre Orcid
  • Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk Orcid
  • Carla Sowinski Orcid
  • Ozlem Cankaya Orcid


What is the foundational knowledge that children rely on to provide meaning as they construct an exact symbolic number system? People and animals can quickly and accurately distinguish small exact quantities (i.e., 1 to 3). One possibility is that children’s ability to map small quantities to spoken number words supports their developing exact number system. To test this hypothesis, it is important to have valid and reliable measures of the efficiency of quantity-number word mapping. In the present study, we explored the reliability and validity of a measure for assessing the efficiency of mapping between small quantities and number words – speeded naming of quantity. Study 1 (N = 128) with 5- and 6-year-old children and Study 2 (N = 182) with 3- and 4-year-old children show that the speeded naming of quantities is a simple and reliable measure that is correlated with individual differences in children’s developing numeracy knowledge. This measure could provide a useful tool for testing comprehensive theories of how children develop their symbolic number representations.