Other than counting, I didn’t know many pre-math skill activities for preschoolers. Fortunately, my family member is an Elementary Math Specialist. Below is a list of our favorite activities, fun toys and math themed books we have enjoyed over the last two years to build pre-math skills!
1) Counting with One-To-One Correspondence – This goes beyond counting by memory. To learn one-to-one correspondence, BeBe touches each item and says the name of the number aloud. She loves to count when playing with beads. However, treats are also a good way to practice counting. (Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads)
2) Sorting – Using her beads, BeBe first started grouping by colors, and then later by shapes. The possibilities are endless for sorting; rocks, Legos, crayons, coins. (Bead Organizer)
3) Patterns – We started with a simple alternating pattern using beads to make necklaces. Once she understood the concept, she made more complicated patterns. Legos and coloring also work well for practicing patterns. (Bead Pattern Card)
4) Dollar Value – BeBe has a toy cash register with fake coins and money. She plays shopping and “buys” her toys and stuffed animals in her room. This is a fun way to learn numbers, dollar value, and counting by tens.
5) Measuring and Introducing Fractions – BeBe likes to cut up fruit for her snack. She has learned two halves makes a whole by cutting an apple in half. I also let her measure out the ingredients when we cook. After we’re done cooking, she plays in the sink with measuring cups to see how many ¼ measuring cups of water it takes to fill up 1 cup.
6) Coins – We started by sorting coins into jars and then talked about the value of each coin. It’s very confusing for little ones that a dime is larger than a nickel but worth less. Then we began counting how many pennies equals a nickel and so on. She also loves the book Monster Money. She picks out the coins in her piggy bank to match the coins on the page.
7) Recognize Numbers in Print- We point out speed limit signs while driving and explain the higher number the faster we can drive, and the lower the number the slower we go. Caution: this might create a little backseat driver, but it’s fun for them and helps with number recognition. We also look at the street addresses in our neighborhood and how the numbers increase in one direction and decrease in the opposite direction. (speed sign)
8) Telling Time – We have the Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting Clock BeBe likes to play with. She can’t tell time yet, but she understands the concept of reading the hands on a clock to tell time. We also have the book, Monster Math School Time which is another silly monster story she likes to read.
9) Math Stories – When we talk about sharing snacks and toys, it turns into a fun math game for us. She’ll say “if we have two cookies and I eat one and my friend eats one; how many are left for you? None!” Then she laughs at me not getting a cookie! I also found this fun book, Bedtime Math. It has silly math stories and questions for different age groups starting with preschoolers.
10) Practice Writing Numbers and Shapes – I draw the shape or number with dashes and she traces them, similar to tracing letters. This is fun to do with sidewalk chalk. (Tracing Numbers Workbook)
11) Comparisons (More/Less; Shorter/Longer; etc.) – Whenever we are out for a walk we pick up items from nature; pine cones, rocks, and leaves. Then compare which is longer, wider, and which group has more items.
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These math activities have been fun for us to do together, similar to reading story books. My hope is BeBe will love numbers and math the way she loves books, and be excited about learning math in kindergarten.