Now that my son is older, my husband (who is also a math lover) and I have been trying to help him to love math too. With a new baby at home, I just haven't had time lately to plan math crafts and activities. (Mucho props to all you homeschooling mamas out there... don't know how you do it!) But, I've been giving myself a bit of slack and telling myself that it's ok. We've still been learning math together... just in a more open-ended and playful way.
Playful Math Learning with Kids
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There is so much math learning that kids can do during play. Constructive building toys, in particular, like Magformers, Lego, Blocks, and Magna-Tiles offer such great opportunities for kids to explore mathematical ideas in a way that is meaningful to them.
Mathematical Ideas Explored During Play:When kids play, they can explore mathematical ideas like
- Numbers / Counting- (Ex: "I have 3 square pieces." "I need a 4x2 Lego piece." "I need 2 more.")
- Patterns- (Ex: They place blocks of alternating sizes of colors in a row.)
- Shape Identification- They name shapes, put shapes together to make different shapes, or utilize a shape's properties while building. (Ex: "I'm making a square." "I rolled the car down the slanty triangle side." "This piece rolled." "These two triangles make a square.")
- Spatial relations- (Ex: "Put that next to this piece." "I put it on top.")
- Comparison/ Measurement- (Ex: "My tower is taller than yours." "My car won't fit. I need to make this garage bigger.")
- Symmetry- They build creations that are the same on both sides. (Ex: "I have to make my ship the same on both sides.")
Two Ways to Build on Kids Mathematical Understanding
So while children can explore mathematical ideas while they're playing, we can also help build their mathematical understanding by
- Building on the ideas explored through play
For example, I noticed that my son was building a house during his play. I asked him to tell me about the house and then that evolved into a conversation about neighbors and neighborhoods... which led him to build more structures!
- Giving them mathematical language
A lot of times kids explore math during their play... but we don't always realize it because we don't hear them using textbook mathematical language and vocabulary. So once in awhile I like stepping in and just talk to my son about what he's doing. I try to sprinkle our conversation with specific mathematics vocabulary (ex: shape names, numbers, terms to describe space, comparison terms) or highlight mathematical ideas (ex: noting that two cube pieces put together are the same length as the rectangular prism). This way I help provide him with the tools needed to communicate mathematically with others.
Another easy way to teach kids mathematical language is by reading a lot of math-themed books with him. Here are some of our favorites below!
Our 20+ Favorite Math Books:
- 100 Things
- Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten
- Color Zoo
- Hungry Caterpillar
- Wing Wing Brothers
- Round is a Tortilla
- Round is a Mooncake
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- The Three Billygoats Gruff
- Seeing Symmetry
- Count on the Subway
- The Greedy Triangle
- Have you Seen My Monster?
- Ten Little Fish
- The Doorbell Rang
- The Missing Piece Meets the Big O
- Dog Loves Counting
- Don't Play With Your Food
- Ten, Nine, Eight
Looking for more fun Math ideas?
More Fun Preschool Math Activities
- Fun Dinosaur Graphing Activities for Preschoolers | Artsy Momma Blogs
- Bumblebee Preschool Math Printable | I Heart Crafty Things
- Lego Math Counting 10 Frames Activities for Preschoolers | A Little Pinch of Perfect
- Math + Art Creative Drawing Game | Hand Made Kids Art
- Shaving Cream Subtraction Smash | School Time Snippets
Happy learning, friends!