Oh those tricky teen numbers. For some reason (I think it’s developmental) kindergartners have the hardest time learning numbers eleven through nineteen. I’m not sure who decided we’d say ‘twelve’ instead of ‘two-teen’ or ‘thirteen’ instead of ‘three-teen’ or ‘fifteen’ instead of ‘five-teen’, but surely they’ve never tried teaching five-year-olds. These numbers don’t make much sense.

In a constant effort to drill these numbers, we sing songs and play games at every opportunity. One of the simple games we play is Teen Tangle. We lay large teen number cards out on the floor out of order and a child has to step on them in order while saying each number. The other day after we play a few rounds, we decided to challenge a few of the sprouts that have already mastered these numbers.

“Can anyone start with nineteen and go backwards?” Mrs. D. asked.

A few friends volunteered. This was going to be complicated.

Dan was up first. He walked over to the nineteen card and began. As he said each number, he would look over his shoulder straining to see the other cards and then take a giant step back to reach it. When he finally made it to eleven, we gave him a big cheer and then Michael came up to try it. He did the same thing. I shot Mrs. D. a look and we both realized at the same time, they thought we meant in addition to counting backwards, they had to walk backwards.

We both smiled with the realization of our mistake. These kids are so literal, when you say ‘count backwards’ they really do it backwards.