10 fun ways to build early numeracy skills

Mathematics can either be fun or daunting for young children. But by encouraging your child to build important early numeracy skills in a relaxed, interesting and interactive way, you are giving them the best possible chance at succeeding in, and learning to love, mathematics!

1. Play dough shapes. Ask your child to look at different 2D and 3D shapes and form them using play dough. You can also use shape cutters to help guide them. This activity gives your child a hands-on opportunity to learn, observe and manipulate different shapes.

2. Count and sort a basket of toys. Sorting and classifying objects help children understand the nature of mathematics. Gather a basket or box of toys and sit down with your child to count them. Sort them based on size, colour or theme. This is also a great way to encourage them to put away their toys!

3. Experiment with volumes during bath time. Collect differently sized jars, cups and containers and use them during bath time to teach your child about ‘full’ and ‘empty’ and compare capacities. Talk about what’s happening as you play. For example, “My cup is full, no more water can fit in my cup”, or “Let’s pour water from my small cup to your big cup and see if it becomes full”.

4. Counting in the kitchen. Cooking together is a great way to learn about fractions and measurements in the kitchen. Show your child different measuring tools and talk about the concept of fractions, such as explaining how two ½ cups make one whole cup.

5. Don’t drop the ball. Take your mathematics lesson outside by counting the number of times you and your child can throw a ball to each other without dropping it. You can also ask another child to keep a tally.

6. Mathematics in nature. Taking a walk gives your child many opportunities to build early numeracy skills. Compare the sizes of different rocks, assess how many birds you spot, note similarities and differences between different leaves, and carry a notebook to put the things you see into categories.

7. Dry macaroni patterns. Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger numeracy skills. Have fun with patterns by letting your child arrange dry macaroni into different patterns or designs. You can also use beads or different types of cereal.

8. Building block towers. Building and identifying sequences help your child develop a sense of order, logic, and reason. Building block towers is a fun way to introduce your child to sequencing, by following a step-by-step method with a final goal in mind.

9. Number safari. In the car, have your child look for numbers in street and shop signs, and on licence plates. See if they can find all numbers up to ten and encourage them to call out the numbers as they find them.

10. Connect the dots. Connect the dots is a fun ways to teach your child about number sequencing. You can download this free connect the dots activity featuring Reggie from Reading Eggs!

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.

Click here for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs, the multi-award winning online reading program.

5 Fun Number Activities for Kids

Children can learn basic mathematics skills before starting their first year of school. The best part is it doesn’t need to involve writing tedious mathematics problems on a piece of paper!

Doing mathematics experientially is much more fun for young children. Here are five fun hands-on activities you can do to build your child’s early counting and number skills without them even knowing.

1. Spill the beans

Grab a dozen lima beans and paint one side of the beans with red nail polish or use non-toxic spray paint on a sheet of newspaper. Place 10 beans in a small container or breath mint tin, shake, and spill them on a table. How many beans show up red? How many beans show up white? How many beans in all? Shake again and again to learn all the ways to make sets of ten. Your child can also count the beans, make patterns and explore addition and subtraction.

2. Match the cotton balls

Take one ice cube tray and a bag of cotton balls. Put two cotton balls in the left side of the ice cube tray and ask your child to match it on the other side. They can begin making sets, or use the patterns for addition and subtraction. How many cotton balls in all? Once your child gets the hang of it, use the ice cube tray to teach place value. Make tens on the left side and ones on the right side.

3. Parking lot numbers

If your little one loves everything to do with cars, gather a bunch of toy cars and a single A4 sheet of paper. Draw out parking spaces and label each space with a number from 1 to 10. Say a number and ask your child to place a car in the correct space. If you have several toy cars of different colours, ask them to park a specific car into a specific parking space.

4. Counting with snacks

For a yummy mathematics treat, assemble a pile of your child’s favourite snack. Choose something small, such as jellybeans, gummy bears or raisins. Grab a dice and roll it. Count out the number you landed on. Roll the dice again and add or subtract that number of snacks to or from your snack pile. Repeat this activity until you only have one or two snacks left in the pile.

5. Paint with paper towel rolls

Cut five sheets of A4 paper into quarters so you have 20 evenly sized sheets. Write a number at the top of each page from 1 to 20. Take a sponge and apply a small amount of three different colours of paint (this will be used as a palette). Have your child read the number on each page and then print the correct number of circles by pressing the end of a paper towel roll onto a colour on the sponge. You can make this activity more difficult by focusing on the teen numbers and asking your child to stamp ten times in one colour, then work out how many more to make the teen number using a different colour (e.g. 13 is 10 and 3).

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early mathematics and problem solving skills.

Visit www.readingeggs.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs and let your child experience the fun way of learning mathematics.

5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child about Patterns

Patterns are all around us. Children have a natural tendency to find patterns; research shows that if you give a child a box full of cups, they will most likely stack them into a pyramid.

Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger mathematical skills. Times tables, addition and skip counting all require an understanding in patterning. Parents can play a big role in helping their child discover and understand patterns, and often the best way to do it is through play.

1. Stack, sort and count blocks

If your child is in preschool, you can help them sort items before learning to recognise patterns. You can use different coloured blocks and have them stack, sort and count them.  By doing this simple and fun activity, your child will begin to notice things repeat in a certain order by size, shape or colour.

2. Match socks by size and colour

While folding the laundry, ask your child to help by matching socks by their size and colour, and then putting them into pairs. This introduces them to sorting and classifying based on pattern recognition. You can also use mittens and earrings. Count out loud by two’s with them so they become familiar with the concept of skip counting.

3. Sort kitchen items by category

Unpack your pots, frying pans, kitchen tongs and utensils and have your child help you sort them by category. You can guide them to sort the items by colour, shape, texture or size. Ask your child to name the groups of each category, like ‘containers’, ‘heavy objects’ or simply ‘black objects’. Sorting and classifying activities like this one encourage children to think analytically.

4. Beads on a string

Bean-making is a fun way to keep children occupied for hours, and is a great way to teach them simple sequencing and pattern creation. Whether you use paper beads or pasta beads, make sure there are at least two different shapes, sizes or colours. Label each type of bead with a letter (e.g. ‘A’ for purple beads and ‘B’ for pink beads) and ask your child to create a pattern on a string based on sequences you say aloud, for example, ‘A-B-A-B’.

5. ‘I spy’ patterns in nature

There are so many patterns to observe in nature, from the colour of leaves to the notes of a songbird. Play a guessing game ‘I spy a pattern’ to encourage your child to observe and create patterns. You can start off with something simple like, ‘I spy with my eye a pattern with stripes’. Your child can then take guesses by looking around while you give them more clues until they guess correctly.

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early maths and problem solving skills.

Visit www.mathseeds.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and let your child experience the fun way of learning maths.

Teaching kids to apply their mathematics knowledge to real world situations

How many times have you explained a mathematics concept to your child, only to have them ask, “When am I ever going to need this?” Here’s how you can help them apply their new skills to real world situations.

We all love to learn, but usually we need to understand how the knowledge we’re about to learn will be useful to us. It’s no different for young children – once they realise how the knowledge they’re learning can be applied to real situations they see in the world, they’ll become more eager to listen, ask questions, and look out for more opportunities to show you how well they’ve grasped the key concepts.

Here are a handful of ways you can do this at home:

1. Implement school lessons at home

For example, if your child is learning about different temperatures at school, ask them to help you check the temperature at home and outside. You can start off by asking them if they think it’s hot, cold or warm, and to predict the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Then, you can consult the thermometer together to see how close your predictions were.

2. Create a simple budget

Sit down with your child and plan a household budget for the month. Subtract regular expenses such as rent, bills and car payments, and encourage your child to try and come up with as much money as possible to remain leftover after expenses.

3. Go shopping together

Plan a family shopping day and prepare a shopping list together. Ask your child to help you pick out items from the list and cross them off as you go. Ask them to stay within a set budget and to estimate the amount of the overall purchase while shopping. This activity helps them incorporate several mathematics skills at once, such as budgeting, subtraction, addition and estimation.

4. Cook together

Following a recipe is a great (and delicious!) way to practice fractions and measurements. Show your child different measuring tools in the kitchen and talk about the concept of fractions, such as explaining how two ½ cups make one whole cup. After all the ingredients are assembled – guess how many servings it will produce.

5. Host fun competitions

How many cookies are in the cookie jar? How many minutes will it take to wash up all the dishes? What is the average weight of this week’s shopping bags? Almost everything can be turned into a fun mathematics game – and by keeping up the fun, the learning is sure to come!

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of interactive lessons and enjoy collecting exciting rewards, watching colourful animations and enjoying great songs throughout the program.

Visit www.readingeggs.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs and let your child experience the fun way of learning early mathematics.