As parents, we have so many opportunities to create in our children an awareness of numbers as part of everyday life– an exciting part as well as necessary! Here are easy ways to learn about numbers in everyday activities and through play!
Make your conversations rich with vocabulary–wonderings: I wonder if there’s a box this present can fit into…I wonder how many pairs of socks are in the wash…I wonder who has the most pairs…I wonder if you weigh more in your pajamas or in your snow gear?
Rather than correct your child’s number attempts, ask questions to encourage further explorations or self-correction. (Count again and see if you get the same number.)
Inventories or hunts can be fun. How many pairs of brown shoes are in our home? How many windows do we have?…doors? What couldn’t fit in our door? Show your child the tally method for keeping count. How many light switches?-single, double, triple? What things in our house have numbers on them? Why are there numbers on them?
Encourage your child to make collections of rocks, buttons, lids, keys, etc. Compare and sort them by color. Can you think of another way to sort (shape, size?) Estimate how many or how much of something will fit. Was your estimate too few/too many/just right? Create designs and patterns with the collections.
Place commercial as well as homemade games. Help your child create their own board game using a spinner or since for moves and drawing with permanent markers on a piece of shower curtain to make the gameboard. Feel free to let your young child create their own rules. Allow negotiation between children when there are disagreements about rules, letting them solve the problem if possible. This promotes thinking skills as they reason out their own positions.
Make a cardboard dollhouse of your own home with your child. This helps your child understand spatial relationships.
Develop a chart of Things Happening Today. Talk about what you’ll do first, last, etc. It might be fun to do this with photographs or let the child draw pictures.
Including children in household chores makes them feel important and needed as well as provides opportunities for number activities. Setting the table: outline where plates, silverware, and glasses are to be placed to help with spatial awareness. On laundry day have your child help sort and later match and fold. Headed to the grocery store? Have your child create the list, count items, guess which items are the heaviest/lightest, and do simple addition by adding whole numbers. Don’t forget cooking! There are lots of opportunities for numbers when measuring and shape play can be done with many recipes.
Vocabulary words that are all about math and numbers:
(Retyped with permission Beginnings, PO Box 2890, Redmond, WA 98073)