Our beautiful spring weather has taken a turn for the worse, so we’re spending some time indoors. Today was the perfect time to round up some preschool math ideas using toy vehicles.
1 – Ordinal Numbers – Car Race
First we turned a wooden puzzle upside down and rested it on a plastic storage bin. My boys had fun letting the cars go. Then my Four assigned each car to its proper finishing place. I showed him the trophies, helped him identify “1st, 2nd, 3rd” and also showed him the words for each ordinal number. After we finished racing I had him practice assigning a car to the correct trophy by telling him what place it had finished.
Want a copy of our first, second, and third place trophies? Get them in the download at the bottom of the post.
2 – Division – Share the Vehicles
I gave my Four a set of four cars and asked how we could share them equally. Right away, he knew that we’d both get two. As I made the pile larger he had to pass them out one by one to get equal groups. After he was done I would ask, “So if we have 8 and divide it equally between two people, how many do each of us get?” This is a very basic introduction to division.
3 – Sorting – Guess the Sorting Rule
I divided the vehicles into groups, and my Four and Six guessed my sorting rule. Here are just a handful of ways to sort toy vehicles:
a) by color
b) by size
c) by type of vehicle (cars and trucks)
c) by where the vehicles are used (land, sea, air)
d) by purpose (above we sorted into emergency vehicles and personal vehicles)
4 – Counting, Number Recognition, Subitizing – Match Numbered Cars to the Parking Lot Spaces
I made a parking lot with ten spaces. In each space, I put a set of stars. Then I put numbered stickers on toy vehicles and had my Two match the vehicles to their matching parking spot. (By the way, subitizing is just a fancy way of saying “look at a group of objects and know how many there are without counting each individual item.”) He did great up until number 5. Since the groups were getting too big for him to count accurately, my Four took over.
If you’d like a copy of our parking lot, you can get it in the download at the bottom of the post.
5 – Patterns – Car Patterns
This is such an easy activity to throw in when you’re on the floor playing with your kids. You make the pattern and have your child continue it, or let him create the pattern and let you name it. Here are just a few ideas:
1) color pattern (red, blue, green, red, blue green…)
2) type of vehicle pattern (fire truck, train, fire truck, train…)
3) size pattern (big, small, big, small…)
6 – Colors – Match Cars to Construction Paper
This was too easy for my Two, but it will be perfect for my toddler in about six months. I’ve also seen bloggers create colorful garages out of boxes or canisters for their children to park the cars in.
7 – Addition – Roll Dice & Park Cars
My Four gathered a set of blue cars, and my Six grabbed some red ones. They took turns rolling dice and determining the sum. Then they parked their cars to the number that matched their sum (if the spot was vacant). If we’d played all the way to the end, we’d have had to switch to one die if we wanted to get the “1” covered! At the end of the game blue cars dominated the parking lot, so my Two had won.
Make your own numbered parking lot or get a copy of ours in the download at the end of this post.
8 – Graphing – Transportation Graph
I’ve featured this idea before, in my Letter T Math. The idea is from I Can Teach My Child. You can read more about the idea here.
Get all the printables featured in this post below.
Just came across your page from pinterest. Starting to homeschool my 4 year old and teaching him his numbers. I love all of your ideas. And so practical too! thank you for the great resources.
I’m so glad you found my site, Summer! I’d love for you to join my free newsletter if you haven’t done so yet. I share lots of free printables and other useful information 1-2 times a week. You can sign up here if you’d like: https://themeasuredmom.activehosted.com/f/1
I haven’t yet tried this in my room, but plan to, and thought of the idea so will pass it along: First i read the book Five Creatures to the class. Next, I will pass out ziploc bags containing probably 16 manipulatives–those pattern tiles that have, like, green triangles, yellow hexagons, etc. as well as some foam shapes–red squares, blue circles, etc. Each bag will have 2-3 colors of objects, and 3-4 shapes, enough to total 16 items. The kids will have to tell me ways to sort them–by type of material (foam or plastic), color, shape, whether they can stand up alone (the foam pieces surely can), and maybe sort by whether they have straight or curved edges, and sort by whether really thin or else fatter (foam is fatter).
My kids are all almost 4 or are over 4, so hopefully this won’t be too hard for them.
Your sorting idea sounds wonderful, Chris! I have found that preschoolers need some guidance at first when learning to use sorting rules, but after a few examples they catch on.
I was hoping to find ways to work on number recognition with my three year old. Anything after 6 seems to be a challenge. Glad I came across this post!
I’m glad you found it, Emily! You can also see my other number recognition activities here: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/math/number-recognition/
Love all o these! Pinned it to use with my son in the future! 🙂
So glad you can use them- thanks for stopping by!
I love this idea! Can I share it on our math website http://www.multiplication.com?
Absolutely, Elicia – I just ask that you link back to my blog so that readers need to visit The Measured Mom to learn more about it 🙂
Absolutely! I will have your website name and link mentioned several times! Thanks!!!
Feel free to check out our blog!
Wow, thank you so much these are great ideas!!! I love your site 🙂
Thank you so much, Wendy!
Hi, my 3.5yo is having trouble counting to 100 after mastering 1-20. she gets stuck at all the 9’s (29, 39, 49, 59,….) as she does not know what comes after, even after playing many games and practicing out loud with me. any ideas on how I can be more creative with this? I tried writing numbers on our side walk for her to jump to the next number but she got bored very quickly.
Thanks so much for stopping by! In my experience, what your 3.5 year old is doing is completely normal for her age – and perhaps even higher than what most 3.5 year olds are doing. If she is getting bored with fun ways to teach the numbers, she is probably not developmentally ready to learn them. One thing I did with my daughter which helped it all click (although I’m sure she was 4 at the time), was to pull out my pocket chart from my teaching days. It had a pocket for each number, 1-100. I took some out and had her help me put them back and name them. I have seen people do something similar by writing numbers on blocks that fasten together (unifix cubes) as well. You can check out my Pinterest board http://pinterest.com/themeasuredmom/math-ideas-for-preschool/ for more ideas – but overall I’d say take a break from this concept for a month or two and try again. That’s always been my strategy when something isn’t clicking – particularly when my kids are young and it’s not a skill that they need to know right now.
Appreciate your advise, thanks for taking the time to reply. Yea I will probably take some time off from counting for now, but funny thing is, she can and enjoys simple addition (for numbers below 10 as I do not want to scare her). As for your pocket chart activity, I got her a Montessori 100 board but…not interested as well, haha!! (pocket charts are expensive here in Malaysia).
Thanks again! Btw, I love your blog, keep up the work. God bless you with more ideas to share!
Thanks for all the great ideas. My 3 and 4 year old love these activities. Some of them I’ve tried already, but its wonderful to see some new ideas to give me inspiration.
I’m glad you found some things you can use, Sheri!
featuring you this week on the kids co-op http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtails-jaime.blogspot.com/2013/05/10-activities-boys-will-love-featured.html
Thanks so much for the feature, Jaime! That’s a great collection of ideas — nice for those of with a bunch of boys 🙂
What fun! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library. I am featuring it on iGameMom. http://igamemom.com/2013/05/15/kindergarten-ready-activities-moms-library/
Thank you so much for the feature!
Visiting you from “It’s playtime”. We are doing transportation this week as well!!
We did the numbered car=parking lot, but we have to do the roll the dice one!!
Just pinned it to my Transportation theme board!
Thanks so much for stopping by! Car math is fun – nice to sneak learning in when they least expect it 🙂
Pauline @ Lessons Learnt Journal
Love these fun learning activities! Thank you for sharing it at the Kids CoOp. I’ll be featuring this as part of my useful math games roundup. xo Pauline
Thank you, Pauline!
I love all of these ideas! I’m sharing on my FB page — and I will have to make these for my son!! 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/WildflowerRamblings
Thanks so much, Amy!
These are great ideas! So simple and don’t require too many expensive materials or timely prep….would love for you to link this up at Mom’s Library! Hope I see you there!
I’m there, Beth! Thanks so much for stopping by.
Great Math ideas! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!
Thanks for stopping by, Ashley!
Awesome idea…love it. Thanks for sharing at HammockTracks and I look forward to your post next week. -Savannah
Yay! My transporation theme is coming up soon for my 3-4 year olds! Thanks Anna!
Hi Lisa! So good to hear from you 🙂 Don’t forgot to check out my printables page for the Dump Truck Counting Mat and truck pattern cards. Next week I’ll have transportation count & clip cards and some basic transportation worksheets too. How are those boys doing??
Katie @ Gift of Curiosity
I *love* these ideas! My son is more in to trains than cars, but I’m sure we could adapt a lot of these activities to use with his trains. 🙂 Thanks for some great math ideas.
Thanks, Katie! Your beach printable pack is amazing!!
My little guy is car obsessed! We have done a few of these – like sorting with colors, but you have a lot of great ideas we haven’t tried! Got to pin this one!
Stopping in from Sugar Aunts.
Thanks for the pin 🙂
Visiting from TGIF Friday. I’d like to invite you to my Friday Flash Blog, where you can share your best blog entry of the week! And who knows, you may just get featured next week.
Thanks for the invitation, Jenny!