Welcome back to another Best Case Parenting article. This one is related to “How to make math fun?”, which is a key question when thinking about preschool math!
This article is designed to inspire parents to think of creative ways to teach their child math.
In this digital age, a lot of parents will probably go to a site such as Amazon if they feel that they want inspiration to help their kids with math.
If those parents were looking into preschool math, and specifically counting, they would probably end up with something like this. It is a common tool when thinking about how to teach a child math.
As you can see, this is a card game designed to help your child with counting. Each matching object and number set is arranged as a small puzzle that your child needs to complete. They pick up a card, count the objects and find the matching number.
This type of game is commonly used (in both homes and schools) to help kids with math. There is nothing wrong with it as a game, but I want to show you that there are much more engaging and fun activities that you could do at home.
When we talk about early childhood education, there are some important factors we often talk about. One of those factors is the need for authentic learning experiences. What is an authentic learning experience?
Let’s ask wikipedia! They say:
In education, authentic learning is an instructional approach that allows students to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to the learner.
Another important factor is the need for engaging activities. Those which are naturally interesting and exciting for a child.
When thinking about preschool math, these kinds of card games don’t really tick those boxes. Matching pictures on cards is not exactly a “real world problem”. The abstract nature of the cards doesn’t really help with this either.
Don’t get me wrong, some children will naturally find these card games engaging and fun. But, for many there is a better way.
I want to show you some simple ideas that you can set up for your child at home. Yes, it may take you a little more time than pulling out a box of cards, but it will cost you less and provide a much better learning experience for most young children.
The above card game is all about your child recognising numbers and matching groups of objects to that number. These activities will do the same.
If you ever wondered how to better help your kids with preschool math, this should be of (at least) some help!
Before we get started….
One item that will help you greatly is a set of number cards. They can be purchased, such as these ones:
Otherwise, you can print and laminate your own number cards at home.
These can be used in a wide variety of situations, to help your kids with math (as you will see below).
Activity 1 – Grocery Shopping Prep!
In this activity, your child is helping you decide what you need to buy more of when you go grocery shopping.
Before starting the activity, you should make sure that you have a cupboard or shelf which is easily accessible by your child and usually has mutiples of the same item in or on it. In my household, I keep stocked up on tinned items. Also, tinned items are easy for a child to handle and count. This is one example of items you could use, but others work too.
Set this activity up by telling your child that you need to go shopping, but you are not sure what food you need to buy more of. Ask your child to help you take a look in the cupboards and see what food there is.
Encourage your child to take the food and place it on a large table or even a clean floor. They can then sort and count the different food items.
You should have a pack of number cards available. Ask your child to place the correct number next to a group of food items.
When they are done, you can check the answers together. Then you can discuss what food your child thinks you have a lot of and what you need to buy more of.
If you would rather, you can do this after shopping and you have gotten home with the food. Your child can help you count the canned food (for example) in the same way before you put it away. This would be an activity more about checking that you haven’t lost any items! You could check your child’s answers with those on your shopping receipt together.
If your child is not interested in food or shopping, the exact same activity can be applied to many other situations around the home. Maybe you are doing clothes washing and you tell your child that, before washing, you need to know the number of each type of clothing. They can help you sort and count the trousers, t-shirts etc.
The great thing about this activity, is it is very flexible. You can make sure that the numbers of objects being used match the ability of your child.
Activity 2 – Role Play
Role play is a great way to help your child with a wide range of things, one of which can certainly be preschool math.
Maybe your child has a lot of stuffed toy animals, for example. You could role play being a vet and set up a vet’s surgery in your house.
As a part of this, you could have a waiting room for the animals to wait in to be seen. This could be row of chairs, for example.
You can then make a sign that shows the number of animals currently waiting to see the vet. Ask your child to help you count the number of animals waiting and adjust the sign accordingly.
As wih the other activity, you can adjust this to suit any role play situation your child might enjoy. Maybe your child really likes toy cars. You can have a garage where the cars are “fixed”. In this situation, your child would count the number of cars waiting to be fixed.
If you have a toy farm, you could role play being the farmer and counting up your different animals.
I think you get the idea 🙂
Activity 3 – Guessing games
The first two activities are more about taking real world situations that involve math and counting.
This activity shows an example of a game that you could set up and play with your child.
Most children enjoy games, so they can be a great way to engage a child in learning.
Unlike the card game shown in the introduction, when you make your own games, you can quickly interchange between several of them. You can also customise them to suit your particular child better.
For this game, you should find groups of objects from around your house. These objects can be anything, as long as they are safe to handle.
Your child’s answers can be selected from a pack of number cards. If your child is learning to write numbers, you could ask them to write their answers on a mini whiteboard.
Take some objects and put them on the floor in front of your child. Cover these objects with a towel or a cloth. Ask your child to guess how many objects they think are there and choose or write the appropriate number.
You could play this together with your child, to give the sense of competition (which always helps with motivation!).
To make this even more fun, you could hide these objects around a room in your house. After your child has found the objects, they can count them and choose the appropriate number.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you can see some great ways to help your kids with math. Being creative with math is how to make math fun!
By relating the activities to real world situations and meaningful experiences, your child is far more likely to engage and enjoy the learning involved. In fact, in most situations they are learning without realising.
When providing an activity for your children at home, you should always ask whether it has real value or meaning to them. This should lead to much better participation rates and less need to force anything.
Preschool math should be fun and engaging for your child!
Do you have ideas on how to teach a child math? Or How to make math fun? We would love to hear them in the comments section below!