Basic Math Concepts Ideas for Preschoolers

by Mary Ann on August 2, 2011

 

counting game pictures

Teaching children sorting is a preschool math concept

Jack can count to ten and he is very proud of that fact. He can also say his ABC’s. But Jack still doesn’t really understand how either one is actually used. Jack still needs to learn some math concepts for preschoolers. Listen to this conversation I had with Jack.

“Jack you need six cookies. Can you count the six cookies?” Jack who is three got four cookies out and said three. “Jack lets lay them out and count them and see what else you need.” One, two, three, four. “You have four cookies Jack but we need six cookies. That means we need two more cookies.” Jack gets two cookies and we lay them alongside the original four. “OK, let’s see if we have six cookies.” One, two, three, four, five, six. “Good job Jack that’s six cookies. And so it went as we counted the marshmallows and the M and M’s.

We are really proud when our preschool children can sing the ABC song and count to 10. What matters though is that they understand some preschool math concepts. These basic math concepts help preschoolers understand how to actually use numbers (Teach kids numbers with number recognition games) and will help them enjoy the process of learning math more. Young children need to experience a lot of ‘doing’ and ‘saying’ before written numerals will make sense to them.

kids sorting socks photo

Sorting socks teaches a preschool math concept

When we are doing projects and working around home we can teach these basic preschool math concepts by having our children help us with our work and by playing with them.

It is helpful to know (and good for our budget!) that learning  math concepts for preschoolers requires no textbooks, workbooks or special equipment.

Here are some early math concepts and some activities to help your preschooler:

Math ideas and math activities for preschoolers:

1. Concept one – Teaching children Same and Different

By offering choices to your child you can help him learn to recognize different traits in objects. Do you want to wear the red shirt or the green one? Do you want to go down the long slide or the short slide?

You can play some sorting games by laying out four items in a row, one that is very different such as three forks and a plate. When they can choose the odd item regularly then make the game a bit more challenging. Lay out four more objects with only one different trait such as three red barrettes and one blue or three teaspoons and one  tablespoon.

little girl choosing clothes pictures

Letting children choose their clothes helps develop a basic math concept

2. Concept two –  Teaching children Sorting

When your child understands the concept of “same and different” he will be able to easily begin sorting. Sorting requires a child to identify certain attributes in an object, such as color, size, item usage, etc., and then form a group of objects according to those traits. As adults we sort every day, putting away groceries, sorting laundry, sorting mail, etc.

Involve your young child in some of the sorting that regularly happens in your home. Give him the pile of socks to pair up while you are folding clothes. Have him determine which foods go in the pantry, the freezer or the cupboard. Let him put away the silverware. When he is picking up toys have him put like toys into separate buckets or boxes. You can play sorting games with them by having them separate the play food into main dish and desert piles or separate the plant eating dinosaurs from the meat eating ones.

3. Concept three – Teaching children Patterns

Patterns are all around us in music, art, building designs, nature. You can use toy race cars, building blocks, pencils, coins, buttons, beads, candies, etc. to create patterns. Line up a pattern using two attributes: red bead, green bead, red bead, green bead. What bead comes next?

When your child can easily copy your simple pattern and extend it correctly, then add a third attribute. Red bead, green bead, yellow bead. Keep building the base pattern when your child has mastered the previous one. Have your child make a pattern for you to follow.

As you extend your child’s pattern, speak out loud for your child to hear how you solve the problem. For example, “Okay, I see first a blue button, next a black button, then a yellow button. Since the first button is blue, I will place a blue button next in the pattern.”

Look for patterns all around you and help your child see them in flowers in a garden, silverware on the table, products on a store shelf. Ask questions such as “Do you see the pattern your feet make on the sidewalk when you walk through a puddle?”

footprints picture

Patterns can be found everywhere - help your child find them

Same and different, sorting and patterns are a few of the many easy to apply math concepts that you can do with your preschooler.

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