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I grew up with the idea that I wasn’t “good” at math. I hate how that label shaped my entire career as a student. When a few skills didn’t click, I was suddenly grouped with struggling students and I shut down. I didn’t put a lot of effort into catching up and figuring it out because it seemed hopeless. Fast forward 15 years later: once I started teaching math to my students, I realized that label had been wrongly and unjustly stuck on me. I wasn’t actually bad at math, but drill and kill just didn’t work for me. I don’t want my children to struggle in math, so I’ve been focusing on early math skills with Miss H.
Last week, I finished reading what Charlotte Mason had to say about arithmetic in Home Education. I have the impression that she thinks early math skills should be developed like early reading skills: through play. Helping children develop a positive attitude towards math early on is key to their future math success. Here are 22 fun ways to teach math skills, concepts, and vocabulary.
Laying a Math Foundation
- Count steps when you walk up them, seconds when you wait, etc.
- When you’re reading a story, count like objects on the page
- Play hopscotch
- Count backwards when a timer is almost up
- Use Inchimalsor Cuisenaire Rods to count how many dots and inches are represented on each block (or animal.) Determine which blocks have less or more value.
- Read counting books. Click here for a list.
- If your child struggles with the one-to-one relationship in counting, put dot stickers on a piece of paper, and cross out each sticker as you count it. This is also great for fine motor skills! ( I had to do this for Miss H, and counting immediately clicked!)
- Play “store” together; designate prices, and dole out pretend money
- Sort coins by size and color, and eventually name and value
- Give your child a dollar or two to spend at the store (Target dollar spot!)
- Measure objects with hands or feet (i.e how many hands long is this chair?)
- Grab different sized items and decide which are longer or shorter. (We also do this with Inchimals and Miss H loves it!)
- Bake something delicious together. Help your child level out the measuring cups. (I don’t mention fractions, I just discuss how many scoops we need.)
- Identify patterns in nature, fabric, and pictures
- Use blocks or Legos to make a pattern
- When organizing books, clothes, etc., come up with a pattern to use- if this doesn’t drive you crazy!
- Make shapes with Pattern Blocks
- Discuss names of shapes you find in nature
- Collect objects from nature and trace them on a piece of paper to observe them
- Make designs with Imagination Magnets
- Play Tic-tac-toe, Connect 4 , Checkers, and other games requiring strategy
- Allow your child to participate in problem solving
There are so many components to laying a strong foundation for math. Here is a helpful resource for knowing what math skills your preschooler needs to know.
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