Teach Your Preschoolers Math Through Play!

Creative Math – Children start developing their mathematical skills while they are still babies exploring their environment and continue into their preschool years. By the time they are learning formal mathematical concepts in the first grade, the foundation for success is already set.

Here are some hands-on activities to teach math to preschoolers at school or at home.

How to Teach Math to Your Preschooler: 10 Simple Activities


The best way to teach preschoolers mathematical skills is through their main medium of learning – play!

This means that during these early years children don’t need formal lessons, activity sheets and workbooks, or anything that looks more like “real work.”

Here is a list of just a few basic everyday opportunities that double up as the perfect preschool math activities.

1. Play With Shapes


Playing with foam or wooden shapes familiarizes your child with basic geometric shapes, as well as their properties. It teaches shape recognition.


2. Make Shape Pictures

Cut basic shapes out of colored paper and make a picture out of them. Children learn to join 2D shapes together to make different forms.


3. Build Puzzles


Puzzles are excellent for developing visual perception and will build a child’s understanding of geometry.

Choose good quality wooden puzzles with a wooden tray.


4. Use Manipulatives

There are so many benefits of playing with blocks and that children should have opportunities to play with manipulatives daily. Also offer beads, counters or other construction toys (Lego too).

Playing with blocks is the first step in building a number concept and every child should have a good set of wooden blocks at home.


5. Make Sandcastles

When children play in the sandpit and make sandcastles and other structures, they begin to use terms such as “I need to make another one,” “There are 3 castles” or “I made one for each of us.”


6. Learn Counting Songs

Counting songs are a fun way for a young child to learn to count forwards and backwards. This is known as rote counting. They also learn about increasing and decreasing quantity in songs such as “5 Green Bottles.”


7. Play With Numbers

Let your child play with foam, rubber, wooden or plastic numbers in the bath or on a magnetic board. Because they are physical objects, your child can touch them and feel their shapes.

This is far more meaningful to a young child than looking at numbers on an activity page. With time, they will naturally learn to recognize them and know how they are formed.


8. Play With Containers

Provide containers of different sizes and shapes and let your child discover the basics of capacity while having fun in the bath or sandpit.

Baking is a great mathematical experience. Let your child be involved in measuring the ingredients to introduce them to units of measurement and quantities.


9. Talk About Time


Find opportunities daily to talk about time. Use the daily routine as a starting point. Discuss concepts such as the time of day (morning, afternoon) as well as clock time (“I’ll pick you up at 12 ‘o clock when the school bell goes”).


10. Problem Solve


Problem solving can be the most, um… problematic, of all the math tasks! Children in the grades often struggle to visualize problems and what they actually mean.

They often resort to guessing operations (e.g. it says more so I should add) without having any idea what the problem is actually about and how, when visualized, the solution is usually so logical.

The best way to prepare your child for problem solving is to give non-stop opportunities to actually solve real problems!

You need to train your child to develop their critical thinking skills.

You don’t necessarily need to be giving mathematical problems, just general problems that require training the brain to think, and think outside the box!

Allow many opportunities to:

  • Build puzzles
  • Solve brainteasers
  • Solve riddles
  • Play games that require thinking
  • Play with construction toys (e.g. figuring out how to make a bridge that doesn’t fall)
  • Discuss problems and solutions during story time
  • Ask your child for solutions to everyday problems

As you can see, most play experiences have hidden opportunities for learning maths.

Learn to recognize them and use them to consciously teach certain skills. Remember to introduce new vocabulary and ask questions constantly during play.

Introduce words such as: heavier, lighter, longer, shorter, earlier, later, more, less, more than, less than, fewer, extra, not enough, altogether, left, another, full, empty, matching, same, different.

H/T: Empoweredparents







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