“Math doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, it can actually be fun, and these six activities can help you introduce your child to many different concepts including counting, sorting, patterns, and geometric shapes. Ready to get started? Enlist the help of food, stuffed animals, socks, and more.”
1. Count with food.
Snack time, dinner time, lunch-prep time — any time works for using food to learn about math and counting! Ask your child to put five baby carrots and five apple slices on a plate for snack. Have your child add three meatballs to each family member’s dinner plate of spaghetti. And when it’s time to get tomorrow’s lunch ready, take out two containers or bags and ask your child to put two graham crackers in one, and eight cubes of cheese in the other.
2. Sort stuffed animals into groups.
What do Bob the bear and Harry the horse have in common? They’re both brown! Help your child sort stuffed animals into different groups. First, sort by color. Then, encourage your child to think about where different animals live in the wild, and sort by habitat. You can also sort by number of legs, size, tail vs. no tail, pointy ears vs. floppy ears, and more.
3. Create patterns.
Use colored blocks, plastic bears, or other small items to introduce your child to the concept of patterns. Have your child make a pile of red blocks while you make a pile of yellow. Then, lay a yellow one down on the table, ask your child to follow with red, and repeat. Explain the yellow, red, yellow, red sequence to your child and switch it up with other colors. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can move on to something a little harder, such as yellow, yellow, red, yellow, yellow, red.
4. Match socks.
Do you dread the laundry-day sock pile? Ask your child to help you find each sock’s match. If you need to simplify it, start by dividing the socks into smaller piles based on who wears them. As your child goes through each pile, there might be four blue socks that look pretty similar or a slew of black socks with barely-noticeable differences. Point out the polka dots on a blue sock or draw attention to the grey stripes on a black sock…and ask your child to find the ones that match.
5. Go on a shape hunt around the house and outside.
Work with your child to draw a circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, star, and heart on a sheet of paper. Then, walk around your house, the backyard, the neighborhood, or a nearby park and look for these shapes in different rooms, on street signs, on houses and buildings, and in nature — and make sure to name each shape as you go.
6. Use measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen.
On your mark, get set, bake! Not only is cooking fun, it’s educational and usually results in something delicious. Start with a simple recipe, such as bread, pizza dough, cookies, or soup. Read the recipe out loud and talk about the different measurements. When it’s time to add one cup of flour or one teaspoon of salt, help your child pick out the right measuring cup and spoon and fill them up.
Whether you want to build on a concept your child is learning in preschool, your child has started asking about different shapes, or you simply need interesting ideas you can turn to during downtime, take advantage of these math activities you can do at home.
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