Are you looking for easy ways to help your preschooler love math right from the start? I’ve got you covered! Check out this list of simple math activities for preschool.
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Would you call yourself a “math person”? Even if math isn’t your favorite subject, I’ll bet you want your kids to love it.
Today I’m going to show you how to foster a positive attitude toward math, plus equip you with some simple math activities you can do with your preschooler.
But first, a quiz.
According to one study, which of these is the best predictor for how well preschoolers will do in math all through school?
A. how many math worksheets they do
B. the quality of the educational apps they use
C. how young they were when they got their first Leapster
D. how much time they spend playing with blocks
So set aside the worksheets and computer games. Read on for simple activities that will help your preschooler be successful in math… and love it too.
7 math activities for preschool
1. Give your child time for free play with building toys and puzzles.
When you give your child a lot of open-ended play time with toys that require no screen and no battery, lots of learning happens. Here are our favorite building toys that really open up our kids’ minds to spatial reasoning.
- Wooden blocks
- Magna Tiles (our most expensive toy, but worth saving for! You could also try this cheaper version)
- Tinker toys (we got the classic set at Sam’s, but this newer version is much cheaper on Amazon)
- Duplos (big blocks for kids not ready for Legos)
- Marble run
2. Point out math wherever you see it.
Do you take your preschooler on errands with you? Point out math in action.
- “See how he’s measuring the weight of our package on the scale? He’s using math.”
- “The cashier has to add up how much all our groceries cost. She’s using math.”
- “The workers are measuring the sides of the building as they add the pieces. They’re using math.”
- “See how your doctor is putting your height and weight into her computer to make a graph? She’s using math.”
The grocery store is a great place to learn about math!
- “Today in the grocery store we’re going to look for the number 8. Tell me when you find one!”
- “Green peppers cost about $2 a pound. Red peppers cost about $4 a pound. Which is more expensive?”
- Feel this bag of apples and this bag of oranges. Which one do you think weighs more? Let’s use this scale to see if you’re right.”
You can even pull out some math on your next walk around the block.
- “Can you take ten big steps and two little steps?”
- “How about one hop and five medium sized steps?”
- “How many steps do you think it will take you to get to that fire hydrant? Do you think that it will take me more or fewer steps than it took you?”
- “How many mailboxes do you think we’ll see on our walk today?”
3. Cook together.
Okay, truth. When I’m trying to get dinner on the table, I prefer to do it myself. When one of my kids drags the kitchen chair across the floor (right in front of the baby who’s escaped from the playroom), and pulls it up to my work space, my first thought is not “Oh great! Let’s learn some math!”
But it should be. Because, wow, what our kids can learn in the kitchen!
- “I need a medium bowl for this salad. Which of these do you think is the right size?”
- “The recipe asks for three eggs. You put one in. How many more do we need?”
- “Can you measure one cup of oats for me?”
- “I need one half cup of honey for this recipe. This is one cup. Let’s see what one half cup looks like.”
- “We need 1 1/2 cups of flour. How can I use this half cup measuring cup to get that amount?”
4. Integrate math into your daily routines.
- “I have a pile of socks here. Can you find some matches?”
- “I’m emptying the dishwasher. Please come and sort the plates and cups for me.”
- “Before we read this book, you need to put away ten things.”
- “Oh, my! Look at my junk drawer! I need your help. Let’s put these things in a bowl and sort them.”
5. Play math board games as a family.
I know, you might pull your hair out if you have to play another game of Candy Land, but playing board games with your preschooler is so smart. Not only does each game teach important math concepts, but you also establish a pattern of playing games together. Your eight-year-old or twelve-year-old is going to be much more willing to play a game with you when it’s a pattern you’ve established.
Here are some favorite games we own and love:
6. Do structured math activities.
Even though free play is super important, children benefit from structured math activities as well. But these don’t need to be activity books, worksheets, or even an app. Just plan for a little math time together, whether it’s on the playroom floor or ten minutes at the kitchen table. Use a free printable (like the Monster Dice Match pictured above) or objects you can find in your house.
- Count together.
- Weigh objects on your scale. (“Which do you think will weigh more, this bag of oranges or this bag of cotton balls?”)
- Play dice games.
- Use counting bears or other fun manipulatives.
- Learn math with toy cars.
- Use lengths of yarn to measure objects around the house.
The possibilities are endless! Browse my teaching math page for loads of playful math activities.
7. Read books about math.
I’ll close with my favorite way to get preschoolers excited about math… read! I’m thrilled to be partnering with Erica of What Do We Do All Day. She’s sharing a book list of 14 books about math for preschoolers. Hop on over to her blog to check them out!
Other helpful resources:
- Encouraging block play from Childhood 101
- Brilliant block play from Teach Preschool
- Grocery store math for kids
- Cookbooks for kids & Math in the Kitchen from Edventures with Kids
- Ten best preschool board games from Little Bins for Little Hands
- 100 Hands-on, creative math activities for kids from Nurture Store
Learn how to make math fun at all different age levels! Just click on an age range below.
*The study referenced in the quiz can be found here.
© 2015 – 2016, Anna Geiger. All rights reserved.