How do you convey the idea of large numbers to young children?
At our homeschool co-op this past week, I was teaching the 2 & 3 year old class about the reason for Thanksgiving. I was telling them that the first Thanksgiving was almost 400 years ago. (Ok, so it was easier than explaning 380 years!) To a 3 year old, 400 years and 1 year are equivalent - they don't comprehend such things. In order to convey the idea more clearly to them, I had 403 pieces of dried corn (my children counted them out for me). I held 3 pieces of corn in my hand. "Most of you are 3 years old. This is 3 pieces of corn." Then I showed them the rest of the corn in a bowl. "In here are 400 pieces of corn. That's a lot more than 3. Just like 400 years is a lot more than 3 years!"
Their faces showed understanding. I'm sure they still don't have an overall concept of time, but they understood it for that lesson.
Do you have any other ideas for conveying the concept of time? I'd love to hear them!