Math is everywhere. Concepts such as counting, sorting and time are involved in pretty much everything we do. That’s great news for parents, because we have lots of opportunities to give our little ones a head start and get them comfortable with math at an early age.
Here are five simple and fun ways to add math to your child’s day:
- Bake something together – You can’t help but use math when you’re baking. Doubling recipes require addition and multiplication, halving a recipe requires division and subtraction and a measuring cup gets you working with easy fractions. At a simpler level, children love counting out chocolate chips. (And so do parents – we speak from experience!)
Ask your child: How many chocolate chips do you think it will take to fill up one cup? Count together and see how close you come to the right answer!
- Measure, count and record – Measure distances and heights. Let your children find out how tall they are and how tall you are. Count push-ups, sit-ups or how many times your child can kick a soccer ball. Get a stopwatch – many children love them, and watching the seconds tick by gives them opportunities to practice counting.
Ask your child: How far can you throw a ball? Take a guess, throw the ball as far as you can and measure the distance. How many jumping jacks can you do in one minute? Try it! How many times can you jump rope or bounce a ball without missing? Let’s count and see.
- Use snacks – Encourage your child to create patterns using sliced grapes and bananas. When you’re finished, copy the pattern and take turns making and replicating different patterns. Practice counting skills by placing three apple slices in a pile and five orange slices in another.
Ask your child: How many apples are in a pile? How many oranges are in the other? Which pile has more? Change the number of items in each pile and play again.
- Build something together – Big or small, any project that involves measuring includes counting, adding and multiplying. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a clubhouse out of shoeboxes or building a tree house. Legos and other building toys are wonderful tools for incorporating both numbers and spatial thinking into playtime.
Ask your child: How high can you build that stack of Legos? How many Legos do you need to stack to reach as high as the coffee table? Can you make a square? A rectangle? Other shapes? This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the different shapes your child has created.
- Mix math into your bedtime reading – When you read to your children, choose a book that not only reinforces math concepts but also has bright illustrations and a fun plot. Some favorites include Go Dog Go, How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten and Chicka, Chicka 1, 2, 3.