It is really simple to include preschool learning in your daily play at home with no extra resources and no preparation work. For busy parents this is great news! I am constantly full of guilt at not having enough time to do awesome activities with J while my self care goes out of the window. With these easy preschool maths activities I can feel better about doing some focused learning play with J and have time in the evening to veg in front of the TV or indulge in reading a book. A definite win win situation!
There has been a big focus in schools over the last few years about keeping maths real. Children often struggle with the abstract nature of maths so keeping preschool maths activities real and relevant makes it much easier for children to learn the basics. By including preschool maths language and activities in your child’s play they will become used to maths being a part of their life across a range of activities and understand that it is linked to multiple areas and activities not a stand alone abstract aspect of school.
Tidy the Toys
J is a particularly tidy child, but on days when he is not in the mood to put his toys away this tidy the toys preschool maths activity goes down well. Preschoolers are often competitive and this can be used nicely to your advantage.
I tell J that he has to put X number of toys away before I can. I always pick a number that I know he can count to as this preschool maths activity is for practising skills rather than learning new ones. J has to count out loud so I can hear him and I keep an eye to check he has the right number of toys while doing a little tidying myself. Tidy the toys is a very easy way to incorporate preschool maths into your day.
Picture Book Counting
I like to try to snuggle up with J on the sofa with a pile of books for some calming down time. There are so many fabulous books for preschoolers and this activity can be completed with many of them. However, the best books for preschool maths activities are those which have large and busy pictures, such as a word book.
Below are some of the phrases you can use for this preschool maths activity:
- Find X number of items. “Find 7 trees.”
- Count X number of items. “How many animals can you see?”
- Using math language. “How many cakes are there altogether?”
- Very simple addition. “How many clouds are there? How many would there be if I added one more cloud?”
- Simple word problems. “How many cakes does this girl have? How many cakes does this boy have? How many do they have altogether?”
Many preschool children will begin to be able to count small numbers mentally. However, if they are getting the number wrong, it can be useful to ask your child to point to the objects in the picture as they count. J went through a stage earlier this year where he would forget which object he started on and count them twice. I have since taught him to try to start at the top left of a page and work across and down when counting. If there is a circle I have taught him to start at the top of the circle and count clockwise.
J loves to measure furniture using a tape measure, but the numbers are big and using intervals is difficult, so I introduced footstep measuring. This fun preschool maths activity keeps J active, improves his balance, practises his counting and number writing and to top it off, he loves doing it!
I ask J to count the number of footsteps it takes him to get between X and Y. He walks one foot in front of the other counting as he goes. When he has finished he tells me how many footsteps it took to get from X to Y. Before J was at the stage of writing numbers, I would present him with a selection of numbers and ask him which one was the correct number of footsteps. Now he can read numbers up to 20, so he has moved on to learning to write the numbers. When J has finished measuring, I write the number as dots which he joins up to practise writing his numbers.
We have recently been potion making for Halloween and this is a great way to practise preschool math at home. It is an activity which helps to develop a child’s listening skills (J needs this) because I was giving verbal instructions. I added maths into as many instructions as I could. For example:
- “Pour 3 jugs of water into the bowl.”
- “Stir the bowl 4 times with your right arm and three times with your left arm.”
- “Now add 8 pinches of cinnamon to your potion.”
This ensured that he was practising numbers and this will also help him when completing baking or science activities too.
Kids love to play shops. They love to copy adults and this is a great activity to combine imaginative play and preschool maths. J has a till and he could play with it for hours. Even if you don’t have a till, you can still play shops with real or pretend money.
When J and I play shops we currently price every item as 1p. The number of items are added together and then a total price is given by the shopkeeper. Just by handing over money in exchange for items you are beginning to teach your children that items have to be bought and that money has a value. It is a great way to reinforce (at a preschooler level) the cost of toy buying around Christmas to keep expectations realistic!
I hope that you have fun adding some of these preschool maths activities into your play knowing that you are helping your child learn without adding anymore pressure onto your shoulders. Let me know which ones your child enjoys most.
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