Math Activities for Preschoolers
Counting, Classifying, Sorting and More!
Math as a curriculum area in preschool might be a bit difficult to get past simple counting sometimes, and number recognition is a great skill to have, but there's a lot more to it than that. As we grow up we end up using numbers everyday, from simply buying a treat at the store, to building our financial budgets. As a child I never enjoyed math, and found that it was one of my most difficult areas. My brothers on the other hand seems to enjoy it, and loved working with numbers so much that they all have chosen a career where math skills are highly valued. When it comes to implementing math activities in the classroom I've noticed that children are often reluctant to participate, and need a more interactive, and fun way of learning these things. Rewards for participation might be one way of encouraging them, but a much more interesting technique is to create games that require math skills to participate in. Using dice is a fun way of teaching children to count, add, and even subtract. I've even been lucky enough to teach preschoolers the difference in odd, and equal numbers by using dice. Setting up a scavenger hunt can promote math skills also, by placing areas where children measure things like foot steps. There are so many ways to encourage children to enjoy math. The only issue is getting past their reluctance. So making the activity fun, and interesting is more than enough to make it a rewarding experience. One way I've found of getting past children's reluctance to participate is simply sitting down, and playing the activity by myself. Making it look like I'm having fun, and naturally they're drawn to find out what I'm up to. I had a button activity the other day for sorting, classifying, and counting. At first when I asked the children to come over and take part they weren't interested, and didn't want anything to do with it. After about 5 minutes of me sitting at a table and doing the activity by myself they actually decided to come over. That activity lasted for a good half an hour with the children, and they really had fun doing it. So don't be afraid to try an activity that might appear boring. Simply show that your having fun with it on your own, and the children will be sure to join you.
Make Math Fun!
Set up a Number Hunt, and have the children do a series of activities where they write down a number from each station on the map. Help them to add the numbers at the end of the hunt to see how many chocolate coins they get from the "treasure box".
Make some Ladybugs, and a few numbers to match the dots on the Ladybugs. Have the children count the dots. Match the Ladybugs to the numbers. Even sort them from low to high and vice versa. Try different sizes, and colors to make it more interesting
A lot of children will have plenty of small toy cars lying around, and even in a preschool classroom your bound to find some. This is a great activity for low budgets that children will definitely enjoy.
Materials: A couple dozen toy cars, trucks, and vans. (Big and small. Variety of colors.)
Procedure: First of all invite the children to come play with some toy cars. If their not very interested then show how much fun it is by playing with them on your own. Counting and pretending to drive the cars to different spots. After a few children have joined you then invite them to sort the cars by color, and count the cars in each color as you drive them one by one to a separate spot. Use lot's of noise! "Beep!" the cars horn, "vroommmm!" it across a surface, and even pretend to jump fly the cars to different spots as you count them. Invite the children to sort the cars by size. Classify them by sorting trucks, Vans, and cars in different piles. Remember to count each set so that they get good practice of it. Make it even more challenging by asking how many vehicles are there when you add the trucks to the cars? How many are there when you remove the vans from the trucks? How many big ones are there when you take away all the little ones? Use lots of questioning, and lots of play at the same time to encourage children to enjoy math, and have lots of fun.
Math with our Friends
Another great way to explore math is to use ourselves. Children love to explore their physical features, and their friends. This can help build self awareness at the same time as math skills.
Materials: 4-5 Children to participate, and a hand mirror.
Procedure: During circle time you can invite them to take at look at their friends, and themselves. Ask the children to look in the mirror and tell you how many eyes they have. How many noses do they have? How many lips do they have? How many fingers?.. and how many ears? Have them look at a friend and answer the same questions about their friends. Then count how many of each there are in total using 2-5 children. Add and subtract by having children close one or both eyes, and have other children count the open eyes. Count the closed eyes. How many will there be if one child opens their eyes? How many if one child closes their eyes? Children love to form opinions about themselves, and each other so this makes a great circle time activity.
A few great links for more Math ideas!
IXL Online Math Acitivities - http://ca.ixl.com/math/jr-kindergarten
The Sunshine Room Worksheets and more - http://www.akidsheart.com/threer/lvl1/lvl1.htm
First School Math Activities - http://www.first-school.ws/theme/numbers.htm
Kid's Chalkboard - http://www.kidschalkboard.com/mathscience.html
Education.com - http://www.education.com/activity/preschool/math/