I was searching for some blogs and discussions on how to teach math for small kids. There are N number of discussions on reading and writing. But unfortunately there are not many on math. So I thought of starting a thread with the tips on how to introduce math to preschoolers and kindergarteners.
I would also like the other parents to add their ideas in the thread.
I feel math is not only about counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication etc. It is also about pattern recognition, sequence identification, estimation, shapes, measurement, money, calendar, time, symmetry and many more. Here are some of the tips which we use at home and school to make each topic interesting for my son by making use of things around us at home.
1. Pattern recognition : We look around the house for some patterns and draw them. For example the patterns in the window, A/c duct, fence, table drawers, buildings, in a shirt, floor and wall tiles etc.
2. Sequence identification: I draw pictures in a specific sequence and ask my son to find the next member of the sequence. First I used sequence of different pictures Example repeat circle, triangle, square or car, bus, cycle or something similar to that and asked him to complete the sequence. To make it complex I use the same picture in the sequence with slight difference. For example draw sequence of flowers with different no of petals, or 3d object from different angle
3. Estimation: I ask him to guess the number of stairs. Later we count and see whether the answer is right. Similarly we take turns in guessing the no of coins in a box, how much time it takes to fill a cup (using a stop watch), no of toys in a box, no of beads in a necklace etc.
4. Shapes: we look around the house and draw the pictures of objects that are of specific shape Circular clock, circular coin, circular plate, rectangular photo frame, door, TV, AC, triangular block, triangular watch dial, triangular sandwich etc. we play I spy with shape as the main clue, we use different smaller shapes to make another shape. for example we use circle, semi circle, triangle, square, rectable etc to form a clown or a train or a building.
5. Measurement : I make my son record his weight, height, the length of the room, length of the table, size of the window, temperature in the fridge and AC, measure ingredients while cooking etc. This is the best way to introduce the measuring tools such as scale, measuring tape, thermometer, measuring cups, weighing machine etc. We use different sizes of cups to measure the same quantity and see how every time the no of cups varies depending on the size of the cup. This teaches him to learn about multiples of 2s and 5s.
6. Money: I made him empty all our purse for the coins and find the different types of coins to draw their pictures. Drawing the pictures, helped him to observe and remember which coin is what. Then we sorted them out. And I asked him to pick up money in different denominations. For example say there are 10 one rupee coins and 20 50 paise coins. to take 150 paise or 500 paise. Another activity is to role play as buyer and seller. We arrange some books on the table and my little one plays the role of a seller.
7. Calendar: We mark important dates in the calendar like b’days, festivals etc. And the school specials like music art and PE classes. And my little one refers to it every day and also keeps track of his holidays.
8. Sorting: Sort things based on different attributes such as shapes, size, color etc. We sort the clothes into light colored and dark colored clothes before laundry; sort the toys into cars and trucks and animal toys. The animals are again sorted based on type as wild, farm, or reptiles and insects, or carnivore herbivore etc. So we talk about attributes and how attributes define an object. And we talk about the mathematical terms such as larger, smaller, lighter, heavier, farther, closer, longer, shorter, hotter, colder etc ..
9. Symmetry – We try to identify symmetrical and asymmetrical objects wherever we go. Leaf, face, coin, photo frame, book, TV, hand, shirt etc.
10. Counting – We count anything and everything. The no of steps in the stairs, no of black cars, no of snacks, buttons in the shirt, no of children in the park, no of pages in a book etc.
11. Time – We use the timer to complete many tasks such as completing home work, to cook, while taking turns to play with a toy, while watching a TV show etc. This helps the kids to understand the time duration
12. Division – learn fractions by dividing pizza, or snack or play dough.
13. Graph (this is done in his school every day)– draw graph of temperature vs date and see the weather trend . draw a graph of no of siblings vs classmates
14. Directions – I made him draw a simple map to the play area from home and I asked him to use it while going to the play area. It’s really fun to see the details they include in the map.
These are some of the activities that make the kids realize that numbers are used everywhere. Home is the best place to teach them math. Timer in the oven & washing machine, temperature in the AC, oven, washing machine & fridge, Measuring cups, clocks, calendar, TV remote, telephone, house no, street no, pin code, car plate no, clothes size. Math is everywhere..