Around the House
Granddad was so proud of little Jesse. He loved to play with him and give him snacks. As Granddad handed out pretzels he counted, "1 for me, 1 for you, 2 for me"
- With your younger children count, "1 for me, 1 for you, 2 for me." With your older children try counting items by 2s (2, 4, 6,) or by 5s (5, 10, 15, ... ).
- Have fun counting out loud anything that has quantity: food that you eat, stairs as you climb them, shoes as you put them away, or the number of times the phone rings before you are able to answer it.
- Practice understanding quantities. Ask your child questions about which is bigger or smaller, who is taller or shorter, or which bag has more or fewer raisins.
- Count down on the calendar the number of days or weeks until your child's birthday or some other special day. Do this every day until the big day arrives.
- Keep a calendar. This helps children learn the names of the days of the week and how many days of the week there are. Use stickers or a special mark for sunshine, raindrops, and snowflakes and keep track of the weather. Count each notation at the end of the month.
- Keep a record of your children's height by marking the wall and measuring the height every month, or every year. Young children enjoy seeing how big they are getting and predict how big they will be next year. The marks on the wall are simply a graph of their growth.
- When you have something to measure, let your children help by holding the ruler or the yardstick. Older children can figure out ways to measure things. Remember, inches, feet, and yards are just one way of measuring. Let them use informal units, like footsteps, as well. This will help them understand the concept of measurement.
- Let your children sort the dirty clothes by color before you wash them. Once the clothes are clean they can sort them again by matching the socks or sorting clothes into piles for each member of the family. This helps children classify objects and better understand the concept of number.
- Get children used to the idea of fractions by splitting up some household chores. "You clean up this half of the room and Roberto will clean up the other half."
- Put different shoes in a pile and ask your children to match up the pairs of shoes. After they are all properly matched, count the pairs, explaining the difference between single shoes and pairs of shoes. The children will also notice the difference in the size, shape, and color of the shoes.
"Time to clean up, Nina," said Tia Juanita. "Let's put the dirty clothes in the basket and take all the dishes back into the kitchen." Nina carefully placed most of the clothes in the correct basket before she curled up with her blankie for a nap!
Math Activities for Ages Two to Five:
- Ask your children to put things into 2 piles of things that belong together. Almost any group of things you have in your home can be sorted in some way. Sort clothes by clean or dirty, shoes can be sorted large or smaller, shirts can be sorted by color, type, or size. Next time, sort them another way. Let the children use their imaginations to come up with different sorting rules.
- There are puzzles for all ages and 4- and 5-year-olds love to play board games. These activities help children learn math concepts such as counting, planning ahead, thinking of patterns and finding patterns, and understanding how much. If you play with your children and win, share your strategy for playing with them so they will develop strategies too.
- Build with blocks, empty boxes, or milk cartons. Because these items are three-dimensional shapes that can be handled, children can use them to combine, divide, and change shapes. They learn to recognize geometry in the real world as well as the relationships between and among shapes. Children can use 2 triangles to make a square or rectangle; 2 semicircles to make a circle. By fitting one shape over another-like a triangle over a square to make a house figure-they can see how the shapes relate to each other. When children build with blocks, make sure to ask them why they are using certain shapes. It gets them thinking about what they are doing.
- Younger children can play with sorting toys, putting circles in the circular opening, squares in the square opening, and so on. They learn to identify shapes and match the shapes with the spaces.
- Provide your children with books, records, or tapes from your local library. Look for stories or songs that rhyme, repeat, or have numbers in them. Children love to be read to, but they also like to look through the pictures by themselves.
- Give your children large pieces of chalk or a rock and let them draw shapes on the sidewalk or in the dirt. This is good practice at drawing shapes.
- Roll balls and stack boxes with your children to help them become familiar with how different shapes move and fit together. Sort the blocks by those that roll, those that stack, and those that do both. As your children play with containers they are learning about shape and size and also practicing their mathematical thinking.
- Play "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" to become familiar with patterns.
- Ask your children to estimate who among them is tallest and then let them figure out how to do the measuring. This simple activity will help them get a sound understanding of numbers, measurement, and estimation.
- Choose a family characteristic like hair or eye color. Count how many people in the family have different forms of that characteristic. Write down the results and make a graph using stamps, stickers, or simple notation.
- Give your children old cardboard boxes to climb in and out of. You can even open two ends and make a tunnel for them to crawl through. This is a fun way for children to learn about themselves in space.
- Very young children enjoy stacking boxes. Collect boxes that fit one into another and let your children stack them. This helps children understand the relationship among objects.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood or in your home and look at the numbers on everything. Outside there are numbers on buildings, on some streets, on cars, and on telephone poles. Inside, find numbers, read them out loud and talk with your child about how the numbers are used. Some numbers, like those on baseball uniforms, are used like names; others are used to tell you the order of something, or the amount.
- Ask your children how many types of numbers they can find in your house, or how many windows they think you have. Write down their answer, and then go around with them and count them all up.
- Dice are fun for children to learn numbers and counting. There are many games you can play with dice that will help children learn about numbers. they will practice counting; learn which numbers are bigger and smaller than others; and after a while they will begin to know how many numbers are on each cube just by seeing them and without counting each time.