Math in the early learning setting supports number awareness, develops logical thinking skills, and develops fine motor skills. If you watch your children use manipulatives in their math play you will find they are also learning how to use equipment properly. They are learning to do it “all by themselves” and this supports self-help skills too!
When you begin introducing math concepts to young children, start with concrete items that allow for one to one correspondence or matching. This is a good time to introduce colors.
To get you started, here are some items around the house you can gather for counters and sorting.
*Milk Caps -sort by color. Learn to rote count. * Buttons for counting or sorting (For young children, buttons can be a choking hazard so only offer these when you are there to supervise the play.) *Keys -many times a local hardware store will have throw-away keys and will give them to you. *Fruits and veggies–think about apples for example, they can be sorted by colors.
* Matching towels to washcloths or matching socks–making sets. (This is a fun way to introduce self care at home as they learn to do a simple chore. When you do the laundry, throw in some sets of hand towels and wash cloths or socks with different patterns. They are just the right size for practicing folding. And make it fun–add a dance to the folding time and use the towels or socks as streamers before you fold them. It’s sure to be an activity that delights young children!)
Mittens, gloves and scarves (think about bandanas!) can also be sorted by patterns, or colors.
Flatware–when your children put spoons at each place at a table setting, they are doing one to one correspondence. When they add forks, they are now making matched sets and if they lay them in the same order –they are now developing the skill of patterning.
Think about the varying sizes for eating and serving utensils. For example, allow your children to line up spoons by size–teaspoon, soup spoon, serving spoon, soup ladles etc. If you are okay with a bit of a mess in the kitchen, you can have your helper sort pots and pans by size. Once they have enjoyed sorting and banging, you can also use this time to teach putting things back where they belong. They can become your helper as you sing the “clean-up clean-up..’ song.
At Christmastime, if you have a package of premade Christmas bows, let your children sort the bows by color or size.
The opportunities are many and the more hands on opportunities you provide, the more concrete the number sense becomes.
Have a great day!
See you tomorrow,