Preschoolers are naturally tuned into numbers and order. Think of the devastation of a broken cookie, a brother getting one more M&M or a friend with a larger scoop of ice cream. Math is all around us. It is the framework of our understanding of how the world operates. Preschool children learn amount, size, matching and other mathematical concepts from everyday life. We can capture their observant nature and natural curiosity to teach basic number sense. It does not take expensive curriculum, materials or games. Here are some simple ideas to teach numbers to your preschooler.
Egg Cartons: Keep your empty egg cartons for a simple math activity. Gather up counters such as beads, M&Ms, chocolate chips, small pasta or torn pieces of construction paper. Then mark each egg slot from 1 to 12. Have your child count one counter and place it in the egg slot “1” and then count out two counters and place in egg slot “2” as so on.
Deck of Cards: Cards are a great math tool. Your child will gain number recognition and the concept of how many that number represents. Once your child masters both of those concepts you can use the cards for addition, subtraction and to make patterns. As your child grows expand on the use of cards by playing simple games which will increase his knowledge and critical thinking skills.
Dice: Start out with just one along with either foam numbers or numbers you cut out from construction paper. Have your child roll the die and find the foam or cut out number that matches the number on the die. As your child learns to connect amounts with the number use the more than die to teach addition.
Any safe object can be used as counters such as crayons, beans, pasta, Legos, toy cars, etc. Count the number of steps as you walk up and down. Count as you place items in a bag or any task relevant to counting. The more you count and “talk” through the math as you go through the day the more your child will absorb and understand. This understanding is crucial to developing successful math skills later on in school.