Children slowly build informal mathematical knowledge, beginning in the first few months of life. Firsthand exploration is important for learning mathematics. As infants, children begin to use their everyday experiences to construct a variety of fundamental mathematical concepts and strategies. Early life experiences help construct the essential skills such as problem solving, reasoning, communicating, making connections and representing.
Research has made a clear link between early math skills and later school reading and math achievement. Adults play a significant role in helping children learn mathematical vocabulary, concepts, and process skills. Below is a list of ways you can incorporate everyday mathematics with your child to construct early mathematic concepts to promote school readiness and achievement.
Math Activities in the Home http://www.cozi.com/live-simply/20-simple-math-activities
- Have your child sort the laundry into dark, light, and colored piles. Ask them which is the biggest and smallest pile and guess which one is the heaviest.
- Ask your child how many toys they thinks are out, and then count them as you put them away.
- Sort toys into categories, such as cars, dolls, or puzzles, and then see what she has the most of.
- Toss in some addition and subtraction for older kids by asking questions like, “You have 8 Barbie’s and 4 puzzles. If you add those together, how many toys do you have? How many would you have if 6 Barbie’s were taken away?”
- If asked how much longer until it’s time to go to school or an event, talk through the issue with a quick explanation: “School starts at 8:30. It’s 7:45. How many minutes until 8:30?” Help work through the problem by counting by 5- or 10-minute intervals, rounding up or down when necessary.
- Count the days or months before a birthday, vacation, or holiday. You can also go over past events by recounting what your child did yesterday or a week ago.
- Grab containers of varying sizes and shapes, including some that hold the same amount but look different (like a tall, thin glass and a short, wide one). Then have your child guess which container will hold the most or least water, rice, or other item. After the guess has been made, begin pouring the item into that container and then transferring it to another container. If there is anything leftover in the previous container, that one is bigger. Compare containers and repeat the process, asking why your child thinks the container will hold the most.
- Allow your child to cut out coupons and then sort them into piles based by product or price (a $0.25 off pile, $0.50 off pile, etc.). Then challenge your kiddo to use the coupons to add up to $1, $2, and even $5. (This is best for kids ages 5 to 9, based on their adding skills level.)
- With a small pile of graham crackers broken down into mini-rectangles, play with your child and help her build larger rectangles, squares, and other shapes out of the crackers.
- Introduce the concept of fractions with crackers or other snacks by taking away a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or more. Based on the amount of snack you have, play by showing what happens when you add or take away portions of the snack.
Math Activities at the Grocery Store
- Count everywhere! The number of items you put in the cart, how many apples or oranges you need, how many boxes of cereal you buy. The possibilities here are endless.
- Use the scales in the produce section for a quick game of “How much will this weigh?”
- Have your child guess how much the grapes, potatoes, or other items will weigh. Have her place it on the scale and compare the difference between her guess and the actual weight. Tally the total: This is best for older children with better memory. It offers kids an opportunity to add and guess how much the total bill will be. It’s best to ease into this task by beginning it on errands where you buy three or four items, and then gradually build up to larger shopping trips with more items.
- As you put items in the cart, your child takes note of the price. Rounding up or down to a solid number is fine ($2.79 becomes $3.00, for example). When you’re checking out, see if his guess is close to the actual tally.
Math Activities Outside
- Scavenger hunt. Embark on a short journey around your neighborhood with a list of items you’re on the lookout for, such as rocks, flowers, bricks, blue cars, or whatever else your area holds. Bring your list along and check the items off you as go.
- On sunny days, you can entertain your kiddo by placing an ice cube on the sidewalk, patio, or driveway. Have her guess how long it will take for the ice to melt and compare her guess to the actual time. Try this in various seasons to see how the time changes during differing temperatures.
- Blow bubbles and tell your child to pop a specific number of bubbles, encouraging him to count out loud as he goes.
Math Activities in the Car
- Assign your child a particular color, such as red, and have him count the number of red cars and trucks he sees on the road.
- Assign your child a number between 0 and 9 and tell him to look for it on license plates, billboards, or street addresses. Shout it out when you see it!
- Have contests to see who can add up the numbers on a license plate the fastest.