Counting is one of the first things that many children learn in Spanish. It is logical that they learn the question ¿Cuántos? (how many) at the same time. This is a question that even very young children can understand and answer if there is a context that makes it clear. Use the verb hay, there is/ there are, to form a simple question.
You can practice this question in many situations. You can ask “how many” as you put on a child’s shoes, ¿Cuántos zapatos hay? (How many shoes are there?), or when you wash her hands ¿Cuántos dedos hay? (How many fingers are there?). You can also count objects in picture books as you read together, blocks as you play, or anything else when the situation makes it clear what you are asking.
One way to practice the question ¿Cuántos? is with photographs. The pictures provide a context so that children can understand Spanish words they might not otherwise recognize. Also, text supported by pictures can reinforce vocabulary that a child already knows.
The following link will open a series of five photographs. Each photo has people or things that a child can count and a question using ¿Cuántos? Cuántos is an adjective, so if it is referring to a feminine noun the form will be cuántas.
Click here to see the photographs and “How many?”questions in Spanish.
Look at the photographs with your child and ask the questions.
1. ¿Cuántas personas hay en la foto? (How many people are in the photo?)
2. ¿Cuántas manos hay en la foto? (How many hands are in the photo?)
3. ¿Cuántos duraznos hay en la foto? (How many peaches are in the photo?)
4. ¿Cuántos hombres hay en la foto? (How many men are in the photo?)
5. ¿Cuántos perros hay en la foto? (How many dogs are in the photo?)