Hands on Math
Hands-on activities that involve counting, measuring and using number words are a good way to introduce your preschooler to math.
- Talk about numbers and use number concepts in daily routines with your child. For example:
- "Let's divide the dough into two parts so we can bake some cookies now and put the rest of the dough in the freezer for cookies next week."
- "We're going to hang this picture six inches above the bookshelf in your room. Let's use this ruler to measure."
- "How many plates do we need on the table? Let's count: One for Mommy, one for Daddy and one for Jenny. How many plates does that make? Three! Great!"
- Talk about numbers that matter most to your child-her age, her address, her phone number, her height and weight. Focusing on these personal numbers helps your child learn many important math concepts, including:
- Time (hours, days, months, years; older, younger; yesterday, today, tomorrow). To a young child, you might say, "At 2 o'clock, we'll take a nap." When you plan with a preschooler, you could point out, "It's only three days until we go to Grandma's house. Let's put an X on the calendar so we'll know the day we're going."
- Lengths (inches, feet; longer, taller, shorter): "This ribbon is too short to go around the present for Aunt Susan. Let's cut a longer ribbon."
- Weight (ounces, pounds, grams; heavier, lighter; how to use scales): "You already weigh 30 pounds. I can hardly lift such a big girl."
- Where you live (addresses, telephone numbers): "These shiny numbers on our apartment door are 2-1-4. We live in apartment number 214." Or: "When you go to play at Terry's house, take this note along with you. It's our phone number: 253-6711. Some day soon you will know our phone number so you can call me when you are at your friend's house."
- Provide opportunities for your child to learn math as he plays. For example:
- Playing with blocks can teach your child to classify objects by color and shape. Blocks can also help him to learn about depth, width, height and length.
- Playing games that have scoring, such as throwing balls into a basket, requires your child to count. Introduce him to games that use dice or dominoes. Have him roll the dice and count the dots. Let him try to roll the dice and match numbers.
- Counting favorite toys.
ACTIVITY LIST for Preschoolers
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U.S. Department of Education
Office of Communications and Outreach
Helping Your Preschool Child
Washington, D.C., 2005