Seven Ways to Mix Maths into Your Child’s Day
Published on: January 12, 2021
Children learn through play and maths is no exception. Emma shares practical ideas to apply and make maths interesting in your child’s everyday activities.
By Emma Gricmanis
Maths is a word that can conjure up a variety of responses. Many people think that maths needs to be rigid or book-based but with small children active games and conversations are key. The stigma attached to maths can be easily dispelled before it arises by integrating maths into children’s everyday lives; in fun ways, that your child will not even notice they are ‘doing’ maths! By mixing maths into your daily routines children are exposed and introduced to mathematical concepts and their skills are developed. There are a variety of ways to support early number recognition, counting, awareness of shapes and comparing sizes from the moment your child wakes right through to bedtime.
1. Where do I live? (Develops Number Recognition)
Looking at the numbers on your front door introduces children to numbers that hold personal significance. They can recognise these numbers and use them in other scenarios or settings. Walking along your corridor or street and noticing the numbers on other front doors or gates help to bring numbers to life and familiarise children with a variety of numbers.
2. How many floors? (Develops Counting and Number Recognition)
Many families live in condos or apartments (if not this game works in shopping malls too). When entering an elevator children will often be fascinated by the buttons. This can spark an interest in the numbers on them and you can play games of recognising the numbers on the buttons while you ride in the elevator. In addition, you can count as the elevator screen displays the current floor numbers, encouraging the child to count along. This will support your child’s early stages of counting and recognition. You could also sing the elevator song (to the tune of 1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive),
So many floors to get up high.
Reach the top and go down again.
3. One for You and One for Me: Develops Sharing Amounts and Subtraction
When eating a tasty snack, helping children to see simple concepts such as amounts in a group and sharing them helps to support the early concept of division, along with developing your child’s personal, social and emotional development linked to sharing. When cutting up a carrot or other snack into slices or pieces, ask your child to play one for you and one for me, by placing equal amounts of the snack on a plate for each person. Then look at how many each person has and if it is the same. Another fun activity to support early subtraction is to eat a piece of snack and count how many are left. You can repeat this as many times as you like until there are ‘zero’ pieces of snack!
4. Shape Hunt: Develops Shape Recognition and Identification
Finding shapes in a variety of ways and in real-life situations supports early awareness of shapes in the environment. When travelling on the BTS or by car, you and your child could spot shapes inside the vehicle (windows that are rectangles, lights that are circles etc). This can also transfer into a shopping trip. Look at what shapes the packages of the groceries you are buying are and identify these. You and your child can search for specific shapes as you shop and can find out which shape you saw the most. If you are at home you can go on a shape hunt around your house, finding as many squares, rectangles, circles or triangles as possible.
5. Sorting Toys: Develops Size Comparison and Measuring
While playing with your child and their toys, look at the sizes of the toys. Can you sort the building bricks from longest to shortest or the soft toys from tallest to smallest? This will begin to open up your child’s awareness of measuring and sizes. This can also be transferred to mark making tools or food, can you find the short crayon or which pencil is longer? Can you bite the carrot stick to make it shorter or which vegetable is longer? These questions will also encourage critical thinking and reasoning skills.
6. Making a Sundial: Develops an Awareness of Time
In an outside area where you live, draw a circle with chalk on the floor. Your child stands in the circle and creates a shadow from the sun. Draw around the shadow your child makes on the floor. At different times of the day revisit the area and mark the shadow again. Children will be fascinated to see how the shadow has moved and how this represents the sun’s position. This will begin to open up your child’s thinking related to time moving on and changes in time throughout a day.
7. Bathtime Fun: Develops Capacity and Measuring
When it comes to the end of the day, bathtime can be a truly enjoyable moment for your child to unwind from the day and prepare for a positive night’s sleep. Using a variety of containers, such as recycled bottles, plastic pots or cups, let your child explore by filling the containers with water and emptying them. This early exploration of water and different shaped and sized containers will help to develop your child’s awareness of measuring and capacity. They will begin to see when the container is full, empty or half full, as well as which containers hold more or less water. This learning experience could transfer into the swimming pool, paddling pool, shower or a small water play area on a balcony.
Playing simple games and exposing children from a young age enables them to be immersed in skills and learning that directly feeds into their development. Starting them off with the foundations of mathematical concepts indirectly, whilst having fun!
About the Author
Emma is the Head of Early Years at Bangkok International Preparatory and Secondary School. She has been teaching Early Years for 20 years in the UK, Hong Kong and Thailand. Her training in the early years began with a BTEC in early Childhood, followed by a teaching degree and Early Years specialism. Emma is dedicated to providing the best early learning opportunities for children to support their development and growth.
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