Young Children’s Cross-Domain Mapping of Numerosity in Path Navigation

  • Morten BjørnebyeEmail author
  • Thorsteinn Sigurjonsson


This case study explores 3- and 4-year olds who do not master the use of the cardinal principle for exact enumeration (i.e. subset-knowers) in cross-domain mapping of numerosity in an outdoors navigation task from a perspective of Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Based on shared experiences in an intervention involving articulated physical tagging of 1- to 4-dotted arrays (e.g. articulate “kangaroo-two” while using the feet to tag the two elements in a 2-dotted array), the participants engaged individually in a novel task with free use of number metaphors for body-spatial mapping of numerosity and navigation across a circle with 50 dots. The child’s and the experimenter’s actions and non-verbal and verbal utterances were recorded on video. From an interpretive stance, the pattern and cross-case analysis show both a shared ability to use number metaphors (i.e. “cock-a-doodle-doo-one”, “kangaroo-two”, “monkey-three” and “frog-four”) for physical and verbal communication of additive structures that exceed their cardinal knower level, as well as quality differences in navigation and cross-domain mapping of quantities within and across knower levels. We argue that the use of a spatial structured language might cultivate subset-knowers’ subitising-based enumeration skills in a manner that integrates navigation and authentic movement patterns.


Early learning Embodiment Metaphors Numbers Cardinality Navigation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inland Norway University of Applied SciencesElverumNorway

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