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.