by Jean Warren

Opportunities for exposing your children to beginning number concepts are everywhere.  From your home to the grocery store, there are object to count, measure, estimate and divide.  Parents can help math become a fun normal part of their child’s life when they ask their children for help setting the table or for help weighing fruits at the grocery store.

Parents can strengthen math skills through:

Art – such as; gluing legs on starfish, making number books, or counting play dough balls.
Cooking – such as; dividing out portions, measuring ingredients, dividing pizzas and pies.
Science – such as; counting legs on bugs, or petals on flowers.
Music – such as; singing counting songs.
Language – such as; reciting counting rhymes, or reading counting stories.
Thinking Skills – such as; estimating and sorting items.
Personal Skills – such as; counting button on clothes, pairing up shoes and socks, or setting the table.

Parents can maximize their child’s learning experience:

Studies have found that young children learn things easier when the learning involves doing.  Math is a prime example of this.  Just telling three year old, that one and one make two, means little to them.  But giving them one toy and then another, and encouraging them to count them, touch them, here is where real learning takes place.  Look for opportunities in your environment where your children can be exposed to number concepts in concrete ways.

Below are some math activities that you can do at home with your child.

There are many opportunities in the kitchen or at meal times for children to engage in math activities.
Have your child help by placing a napkin out for each person on the table.
Ask your child if they want their sandwich cut into two rectangles, four squares or two triangles.
Let your child help you by measuring out one cup of milk or by bringing you two eggs.
Have your child press four raisins onto the top of each cookie before baking.

It is easy to turn bath time into math time.
Give your child a plastic boat and some small toys to play with. Have him count how many toys it takes to sink the boat.
Give your child a set of plastic measuring cups and have her discover how many ½ cups it takes to fill up one cup.

Sing silly songs about toes and fingers. Such as;

“One little, two little, three little toes,
Four little, five little, six little toes,
Seven little, eight little, nine little toes,
Ten toes in the tub.”

Children are often bored while riding in the car. Use this time to play simple math games.
Count with your child the number of red trucks you see.
Count how many seconds pass until the light turns green.
Count the number of letters to mail, or the number of books you have to return to the library.
The grocery store is filled with math opportunities. When you have time, let your child help you.
Weigh fruits and vegetables.
Pick out three red apples.
Locate the larger or smaller size of a product, such as; cereal.
Estimate how many bags your groceries will be put into.

One of the best times to teach your child math skills is during their normal play times.
While playing with blocks, see how many they can stack up, counting as they go, before their stack falls down.
While putting toys away, have your child pick up a specific number of toys, such as; six toys. Have her count as she picks up and puts each toy away.
Have your child estimate how many blocks or other specific toys can fit into his wagon. Have him count toys as he puts them in and as he takes them out.
Kids love to do simple crafts. Utilize this love to also build math understandings. Have them:
Count beads or straws as they string them onto a lacing string.
Make a number counting book with pictures cut or torn from magazines.
Count candles on play dough cakes.
Trace around five fingers.
Glue six petals around a yellow center to make a flower.