Teaching Mathematics in Early Childhood Through Play

The Problem – I am not good at math

I have heard adults and children proclaim that they are not good at math. Some people believe this because they received bad grades in this subject in school. Furthermore, they had a difficult time understanding various mathematical concepts. Many of us believe math just comes naturally for some people. I discovered that this is simply not true. Teaching mathematics in early childhood is one way to combat this belief.

You mean people can improve their math ability?

Yes, people can improve their math abilities. I remember reading the book, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League by Paula Penn Nabrit. The author details why and how she homeschooled her boys. When it was time for her sons to go to college, she talked to a college admission counselor about what they look for when admitting students to their school. Of course they mentioned grades among many other aspects of a student. The counselor said good reading scores starts early in childhood; however, with practice many students can raise their math scores later in life.

How can this be done?

Dr. Ben Carson gave a lecture on PBS called, The Missing Link: The Science of Brain Health. In this talk, he gave tips on how people can optimally utilize their brain. Dr. Carson addressed the fact that many people find math difficult. He says that anyone can be good at math. Math is a subject that builds upon the previous concept. He said that when people have trouble with math it is because they failed to understand the previous concept given to them. It is important for students to go back and make sure they understand the foundational ideas before they move ahead to the next.

It just takes practice and effort.

Why is teaching mathematics in early childhood important?

When many people hear the word “mathematics” they tend to think of numbers, equations, and theories. However, math is so much more than that. It is a part of our everyday interactions and children naturally practice mathematics as a life skill whether we notice it or not.

For example, a child knows that if he or she has one cookie and his or her sibling has two cookies, then there is a difference. If a child has played with a toy for five minutes and another child played with it for fifteen minutes, they can feel the discrepancy. In the examples above, children are using mathematics to decide how they should feel about certain situations. 

If our children naturally practice these skills, why not foster their learning by connecting it to their interests and incorporating it into their play and daily routines?

We will discuss some ways to do this later.

My son is three-years-old. He was curious about multiplication after seeing the x sign. I showed him how to complete multiplication problems through drawing pictures.
In this picture my son is three-years-old. He was curious about multiplication after seeing the x sign in his play math set. I showed him how to solve multiplication problems through drawing pictures. He is solving the problem 8 x 2 =
He is writing the correct answer 16  on his V-Tech Easel.
He is writing the correct answer 16 on his V-tech easel.

What are the important mathematical skills in early childhood education?

Colors

Colors, shapes, and spatial reasoning are a few important mathematical skills in early childhood education. Colors help children organize and bring logic to their world. Identifying colors helps a child create a link between visual clues and words. Colors aid in giving children the vocabulary needed to describe the world around them, which opens up new verbal channels for them.

For instance, children often distinguish the difference between foods such as fruits and vegetables by their color. Furthermore, when your child is painting or coloring, most often they will make the sun yellow and water blue because this is familiar to them. It helps to organize their creation.

Shapes

Shapes are not only important in math, but also life in general. A child who can identify shapes will learn how letters of the alphabet are formed. This prepares them to have better handwriting skills. For instance, the letter O is basically a circle.

Also, the knowledge of shapes is useful for building, which is an introduction to engineering. My son learned a lot about what shapes to use when building certain structures with his magnetic tiles. He learned that rectangles and squares make great bases or foundations for towers. His towers are made with hexagons, squares, and triangles. From these experiences, he was able to apply his knowledge of creating basic structures to making them more sophisticated and complex.

Spacial Reasoning

A child uses visual spatial skills daily when he or she imagines where a toy in their room is located before going to get it. Another example is when a child is packing their book or duffle bag; they visualize how different items can fit together to maximize storage capacity. Furthermore, when a child puts together a puzzle, they imagine where pieces go before putting them in the correct place.

What are the methods used to teach mathematics?

There are so many methods to teaching mathematics besides worksheets. My favorite method is playful learning which may include games, hands-on activities, and the use of toys. These activities will help you to make the information active to your child. This is important because learning comes to life for a child when they do something with the information.

Examples of fun activities you can do are to go outside, collect and count rocks, and sort them by color and texture. You can also build a math activity around your child’s interests. If your child likes cars, have them construct numbers in sand or mud with their toy vehicles. You can also create a road with tape in the form of numbers. Then have your child follow the path with the cars. If you have a child that likes dolls or stuffed animals, then help them do a role play as a teacher teaching their dolls how to recognize numbers. 

The possibilities are endless!

Want more FUN ideas for teaching early childhood mathematics?

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

The book above, Teaching Mathematics in Early Childhood: Simple Activities That Make Learning Math Easy and Fun has over 200 activities, tips, and resources. It will give you fun playful activities on how to expose your child to the following concepts….

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Spatial Reasoning
  • Sorting and Organizing
  • Number Recognition and Counting
  • Estimation
  • Measurement
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Skip Counting and Multiplication
  • Money Recognition
  • Time

Many of the activities can be done with household items and materials. This book also gives its readers tips and resources such as children book suggestions, videos, music, toys, and playful materials.

How do I know these activities work?

These are the activities I have used to teach my son, Cory, early childhood mathematics. Currently he is five but does math on a 4th grade level.

Cory really enjoyed learning math because the activities were hands-on, playful, and fun. He connected with the concepts because he was able to experience what he was learning through engaging games. Additionally, when you use fun learning and play to expose a child to math, the information tends to stick faster.

There is a quote by Dr. Karen Purvis that says “Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain – unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions!”

This is why playful learning is important, effective, and efficient!

Keep learning and having fun!

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Family DIY Chalk Paint Activity

Below is a guest post.

Are you looking for the perfect activity to do in the final weeks of summer? This DIY chalk paint activity is great for the whole family! Younger kids can enjoy using this decorative paint (that easily washes away!) to create sidewalk masterpieces, and older kids or adults can use it to make fun or inspirational chalkboard signs to display around the home!

Check out the step-by-step guide for DIY chalk paint below and also be sure to download some or all of the three awesome stencil packs that both kids and adults can use to elevate their chalk paint art.

Guide to DIY Chalk Paint

The process of making your own chalk paint is simple! You just need water, cornstarch, and food coloring. Once you mix together these three basic ingredients, you’re well on your way to creating masterpieces at home.

To help guide your artwork, download these stencil packs:

The visual from Apartment Guide below goes over how to make your chalk paint. You can also find some cool ideas for how to use it at the end. Happy chalk painting!

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Fun Numbers Activity for Kids – Slime Hide and Seek Challenge

Want a fun numbers activity for kids? Look no further, I will share one with you in this post.

My son and I love to make up games to play. I personally like adding an educational component to these games to make learning fun. While playing games, my son loves to compete and it creates motivation for him to understand new concepts.

Games also accommodate the three basic types of learners which are sight learners, audio learners, and kinesthetic learners. Kids are often using sight, hearing, and touch when playing games.

This week we played and created the Slime Hide and Seek NUMBERS Challenge.

This game is great for teaching and reviewing number recognition and place values with your children. About two weeks before playing this game, we found an easy three-ingredient slime recipe that my son loves. Therefore, we thought it would be fun to incorporate it into our game.

We love this activity because it includes the science of making slime from scratch and the mathematical concept of numbers. Additionally, the friendly competition games encourage is always exciting!

The video below shows you how to play the game. We played three rounds and each one gets harder as you progress. Watch the whole video to find out who won (my son or I).

Your kids will have a blast playing the game! We hope you enjoy it!

Fun Numbers Activity for Kids – Slime Hide and Seek Challenge

The video below comes from my son’s YouTube channel, Corban’s Fun Learning Adventures. Please subscribe if you like what you see.

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Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Writeand “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.

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8 Number Toys/Materials for Toddlers

My son was able to recite the numbers 1-10 at 17 months. I remember him sitting in the high chair, waiting for his dinner to cool down, saying the numbers as I held my fingers up.

He did not learn with flashcards. He learned with natural and playful exposure. I wanted to ensure he used three of his senses, which were sight, hearing, and touch, when learning the numbers. It was important for him to see, hear, and touch them. It is possible to incorporate the sense of taste by making number cookies.

I will show you the educational toys for toddlers we used to naturally expose my son to numbers in a fun way. Additionally, there are explanations in how we used each toy or material.

Let’s Get Started!

Number Puzzles

  • My son liked these types of puzzles because he was able to touch the numbers.
  • Whenever he picked up a number, I would identify it.
  • We would put them in order forwards and backwards.
  • I also loved to hide them around the room and he would bring them to me.
    • After he gave me the number, I would identify it until he could do it himself.
  • Here are more options for number puzzles.

Play-Doh

Magnetic Numbers

  • My son liked playing with these numbers on the refrigerator while I was cooking or preparing a snack.
  • He sometimes would mix the numbers up and ask me to identify them.
  • He liked to hold up a certain number and have me tell him its name.
  • We would make up songs about the order of the numbers.

Flexi Rods

  • I know this is not a toy but a hair product.
  • We used this as a toy by bending them to make numbers.
  • I have these at home but never used them.
  • It is also a great hand strengthening activity for kids to prepare them for writing.

WikkiStix

  • We used WikkiStix to form numbers.
  • WikkiStix kept my son busy during a two-hour church service.
  • After making numbers, we liked to make up stories about the numbers.

Leapfrog Learn and Groove Musical Mat

  • This toy brings a physical component to numbers.
  • This number instructs kids to step on a certain number while doing silly movements.
  • My son and I loved racing each other to get to certain numbers.
  • The music, colors, and commentary makes learning about numbers fun.

Mark D Pencil Learning with Hip Hip Educational Lessons

  • Turn your car into an educational vehicle with this music.
  • We like listening to this album in the car.
  • It was a natural way for my son to learn how to count from 1-100.
  • After hearing the number song many times, you will hear your child sing them while playing.

Children’s Books

  • During our weekly trips to the library, I would get different number books.
  • Reading various number books to your child will help them remember it in a natural way.
  • They will get various perspectives on numbers from different authors’ points of view.
  • We read over 60 number books.
  • Below are five number books my son enjoyed…

Have fun with these learning toys for toddlers!

OUR KID FRIENDLY FAST & FUN STUDY TRICKS FOR BETTER GRADES: 9 FUN STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN LEARNING AND SCHOOL HAS $29 OFF THE ORIGINAL PRICE.

Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.

THE TEACH YOUR TODDLER TO READ THROUGH PLAY ONLINE COURSE HAS A $97 DISCOUNT.

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Simple Number Recognition Game

One day my son was playing with dice from a Monopoly game and play foam numbers. All of a sudden I hear him say, “Mommy, I made up a game!”

When I hear the word “GAME,” I get excited. I think games are the best way to learn because they incorporate the three basic learning styles: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic learning.

I sat on the floor with him and he gave me directions for the game. After playing the game with him, I realized it would be perfect to help kids with number recognition. Since we had a great time playing the game, I would like to share it with you.

Let’s Get Started!

Materials Needed:

Directions:

  • Spread the numbers on the floor (1-20 if possible).
  • First roll the dice
  • Then count the number of small dots on the dice.
  • The number of dots you count represents the amount of (play) numbers you hide around your home.
  • If you roll a six then you have to hide any of the six numbers.
  • The other person will find those six numbers and identify them.
  • Make the game more difficult by using a timer.
  • The person looking for the numbers will have to find the numbers within a certain amount of time, like 2 minutes.
  • Next round have the other person roll and hide the numbers
  • That’s all there is to it!
I rolled the number 3 so I had to hide three numbers. My son found and identified all three numbers I hid around the room.

I hope you like this game!

OUR KID FRIENDLY FAST & FUN STUDY TRICKS FOR BETTER GRADES: 9 FUN STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN LEARNING AND SCHOOL HAS $29 OFF THE ORIGINAL PRICE.

Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.

THE TEACH YOUR TODDLER TO READ THROUGH PLAY ONLINE COURSE HAS A $97 DISCOUNT.

Click here for the PAYMENT PLAN OPTION!

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Car Wash Fun for Kids – The Ultimate Learning Activity

My son loves to play, build, and race his toy cars. One day, I asked him if he wanted to have a car wash after seeing this activity on the Internet. I remember looking at this activity and thinking this would be a great idea for a kid who likes cars.

I had several reasons for suggesting the car wash. First, this activity was a fun way to encourage my son to practice his penmanship. The weekend we did the activity, it was raining. I was trying to find something hands-on to do in the house; although, a car wash is really fun when doing it outside on a sunny day. Furthermore, I wanted to incorporate three things that interest my son which are cars, counting, and getting messy.

Our Car Wash incorporated fun and so many aspects of hands-on learning. I thought I would share this activity with you so your kids can have as much fun as my son.

Check out our new book available on Amazon, Teach Your Child About Money Through Play! It has over 110 Games/Activities, Tips, and Resources. The book is great for kids ages 4-10 and their parents.

Let’s Get Started

Materials:

  • Big sheet of poster board or white craft paper
  • Toy Cars
  • Markers
  • Painters Tape
  • Towels (3)
  • Wash Cloth
  • Cash Register or Play Money (You may also make your own play money)
  • Two Rectangular Plastic Containers
  • Water
  • Dish Detergent
Some of the materials for the Car Wash

Preparation:

  • Have your child decide the Car Wash Prices.
  • If your child can write, have them write the car wash prices on the poster board or white craft paper.
  • My son decided to give each color car a different price.
  • If your child can’t write, you may create the Car Wash Price Sign for them.
  • You may have your child draw the various colored cars on the sign.
  • I created a template on construction paper to assist my son in organizing the Car Wash prices on the white craft paper.
My son writing the Car Wash Prices using the template I created on pink construction paper.
Continuing to write the prices
Car Wash Price Sign is complete.
  • Tape the Car Wash Prices to a wall where it is visible for customers.
Car Wash Prices taped to the wall.
  • Get the toy cars, cash register, wash cloth, and towels
  • Lay the towels on the floor if you are doing this in your home.
  • If you are outside, then you can skip this step.
  • Fill one rectangular plastic container with dish detergent and water halfway.
  • This is where you will wash the cars
  • Fill the other rectangular plastic container with water.
  • This is where you will rinse the cars.

Now the Car Wash can Begin!

  • Have your child role play the Car Wash owner.
  • You or your child’s siblings and/or friends can play the customers.
  • As a customer, get some play money so you can pay to get your car washed.
  • I started off with $30.00 divided into (10) one dollar bills, (2) five dollar bills, (1) ten dollar bill
My son giving me money to start the Car Wash Activity.
  • Have your child say the following:
  • “Welcome to the Car Wash, how may I help you?
  • You will respond by saying the following…
  • Yes, I would like to have my yellow cars washed please.”
  • Then your child will look at the poster they made to see how much it costs to wash the yellow cars.
  • On our poster, it costs $2.00 to wash the yellow cars.
  • I had three yellow cars, so I gave him $6.00 with (1) five dollar bill and (1) one dollar bill
Exchanging money during the Car Wash Activity
  • Sometimes I gave him more money than the cost of washing the car so he could practice his subtraction skills and give me change.
  • After giving my son the money, he took the cars and washed them.
  • He washed them in the soapy water container and then put them in the container with water to rinse.
  • Next he put them on the towel to dry.
My son washing the cars.
My son rinsing the cars.
  • We kept repeating these steps until all the cars were washed.
  • Another time we did this activity, I was the Car Wash Owner.
  • We have also done this activity where my son was the Cash Wash Owner for the red cars but I was the Cash Wash Owner for the blue cars.
  • In other words, we were alternating roles.
  • Tailor this activity to your child’s ability by doing the following…
    • Have your child wash only one car at a time so they don’t have to do any subtraction or addition.
    • Only give your child one dollar bills so they can practice counting by ones.
    • Make all the car wash prices the same to make things easier.

View the video below to see us do this activity in real time. This video comes from my son’s YouTube channel, Corban’s Fun Learning Activities. Please like and subscribe for fun learning activities.

Subjects Learned in this Activity

Color Recognition

  • Sort the cars by colors.
  • Make different prices for each color car.
  • You may also have a car wash with one color car like the red cars.

Math

  • Adding the costs to wash multiple cars.
  • Subtracting when the customer gives the Car Wash Owner too much money and change is needed.
  • Multiplying the cost when multiple cars with the same price are needed to be washed

Science

  • We had some cars that would float in the water and some that would not
  • We discussed that cars with less density than the water will float.
  • Cars with more density than the water will sink.
  • We reviewed the word buoyancy, which is the ability to float in water.
  • You may discuss the science of soapy water and how it cleans the cars.
    • Soap attaches to dirt and grease and causes it to be pulled off the toy cars and suspended in the water

Writing

  • My son was able to practice his handwriting skills in creating the Car Wash Price Sign.

Customer Service

  • Teach your child the importance of being nice and respectful to their customer.
  • Also ensure your child knows to clean the cars well so the customer is happy.
  • If the customer is happy then they will bring more customers.

Entrepreneurship

  • Explain to your child that Entrepreneurs own businesses and their purpose is to solve problems or make things better.
  • A great business has happy customers who will tell others about their service or product.
  • Take your child to a real Car Wash and show them it is a Real Business.

Have fun with this activity and make this your own!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

Happy Learning!

OUR KID FRIENDLY FAST & FUN STUDY TRICKS FOR BETTER GRADES: 9 FUN STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN LEARNING AND SCHOOL HAS $29 OFF THE ORIGINAL PRICE.

Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.

THE TEACH YOUR TODDLER TO READ THROUGH PLAY ONLINE COURSE HAS A $97 DISCOUNT.

Click here for the PAYMENT PLAN OPTION!

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