Toddlers and pre-school kids are quick learners and always interested in learning new ways to do an activity.
Here are a few ideas on how to encourage math skills in your young kids through fun, hands-on activities at home and inspired in Montessori education with simple elements that you possible have or can easily replace with something else.
Visually identify numbers #
Ask them to find a number in a page with random numbers (1-10) Ex. Find number 5. With my 3 1/2 year old I used the book 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo: A Counting Book which has mixed numbers at the beginning and at the end of the book, so before reading the book, we played a little to find the number.
Tip: For numbers 6 and 9, y showed him how to identify where the tail is, if is pointing up is a 6, if is pointing down is a 9, now he asks and answers himself the question, where is the tail?
Don’t want to buy a book? here is a template with a colorful find the number (1-10) and (1-20) pages, you only need to print them.
Or if you prefer a book, here are some awesome counting books:
Matching number with object quantity
You can try different variations of this game, depending on your child’s knowledge. There are plenty of puzzles and flashcards in the market to play this game. You can find them at dollar tree, target, amazon, aldis, almost at any store.
You could also buy a cute unique set from Etsy store (there are tons of designs for every kind of taste). If you buy a set to print it yourself, you’ll be able to print it twice and play matching cards games.
Slowly increase difficulty to make it exciting each time.
- Beginner: Buy an easy matching numbers and quantity puzzle and build it together, or print counting flashcards and repeat out loud the numbers together.
- Intermediate: Separate puzzle or cards in 2 piles: Objects and numbers. Then ask your child to find the respective number for a certain object quantity. Ex: Find the number 3 for these 3 lions.
- Advanced: Lay the cards upside down on the floor and do some matching by quantity and the respective number, this will also stimulate their short term memory.
- Pro: Let them play independently.
Matching duplos or legos with quantity
Place numbers 1-10 (or higher if your child is ready) on the floor and ask them to build little towers with the respective quantity of blocks.
A variation of this game would be matching clothes pins with cards with numbers.
Duplo or legos Patterns
Place the duplox colored template on the floor and ask your child to build the towers with the respective colors.
I included a link to download pages of Duplo colored patterns ready to print below.
Download ready to print PDF with Duplo colored patterns ready to print
Countdown out loud before turning the lights off for bed
This was my oldest son’s idea. Before turning the lights off do a 10 to 1 countdown. This is fun and will also give them some extra time to tidy up their blankets and pillow.
Counting to 20 while washing hands
With the pandemic still around, you’ll be teaching them to count while teaching the proper way of washing hands.
Playing hide and seek
Not only they will learn to count (which is funny to hear them counting at the beginning skipping so many numbers) but they also will learn to take turns and to have a little patience while they are hiding to not be found.
Counting flowers, animals, shapes, food, etc while reading books
Each time we are reading a book, we look at the pictures with details to find opportunities to count.
Coloring books, stickers by numbers, Connect the dots by following numbers. All different ways to learn about numbers and make the process fun for the kids.
Download ready to print PDF with coloring pages by numbers