Do you look at your Math or Math & Manipulatives Interest Center and wish you had more activities for the children to choose from?
Most of us do. We also think about all the math development we could support if only we had activities and games to support each of the math process skills (and there are over a dozen skills preschoolers develop in this area!).
First, remember that math happens all throughout your classroom every day! I now think of my Preschool Math & Manipulatives Center as a storage area for the tools, materials and games for children. It is simply just where they are stored within the classroom!
Those table blocks might find their way into the sand table to make a cave for the dinosaurs.
The pom poms from the pom pom counting game you placed there may find their way into the most delicious cupcakes being baked in Dramatic Play!
The purpose of the materials you provide should not be for the children to sit at the table and use them only “at the Math Center” but also for use in the other areas of your classroom. Regardless of where they use most materials, they will develop their math skills!
Counting pom poms into pretend cupcakes is math.
Create a cave for dinosaurs that is “6 blocks tall” is math (it is counting, non-standard measuring, spatial awareness learning and more!).
Even File Folder Games will be used for matching, comparing and sorting by your children when they are “teaching” each other in the Library area using the file folder cards, or by teaching their stuffed animals how to sort by color!
The important thing for us is to provide materials that lend themselves to hands-on play and learning!
There are many things you can do to set up your Preschool Math Center! Click here to read my full article on it.
Then come back here and leave a comment: What is YOUR favorite Preschool Math Center material?
Until next time!
I’ve worked in programs where we had access to stoves or ovens, programs where we only had a microwave and programs with no access to cooking applicances at all.
There are many of us in Early Childhood Education who avoid adding cooking activities into their weekly planning or only include it occassionally.
Usually it’s because of this lack of access to kitchens. It is also because of our shortage of ideas for cooking.
There is an amazing book that has over 50 cooking activities that do NOT require heat at all!
50!!! That’s one every week with school vacation weeks off! 😉
The books is more than the typical “Let’s make a fruit salad” type of a book and includes recipes for Appetizers and Dips; Beverages; Fun with Fruit; Snacks and Cookies and Pies!
What I love most about it is that it is a cookbook written for child educators BY a child educator…click here to read full article.
Happy non-heat cooking!
Until next time,
In an earlier blog post, I talked about teaching preschool math and gave information on the 13 math process skills preschoolers develop throughout their preschool years.
Math is something we use and see every day in the classroom. Children are passing out cups of tea in dramatic play (using 1-1 correspondence to be sure each person has on cup). They are building ramps in the block area (using classifying and counting skills as they build). As a preschool teacher, you have the opportunity to observe their play and, therefore, know where each of your children’s knowledge is regarding the 13 math process skills.
Once you know where each child’s knowledge is, it can help you to provide materials and activities to introduce them to other areas of math. How do you do this?
The most basic and simplest way works best! Create a chart! List of the children’s names in a column and list the math process skills across the top row. As you observe your children in play, check off the areas you see them using in everyday interactions. Once you’ve done this for all children (and you will be able to do this throughout one week if your children attend 5 days a week or in two weeks if your children attend 2-3 days a week), review your list.
Are there areas that all your children have mastered? Are there areas that none of your children use?
For example, all your children may be able to rationally count up to 5 items. You notice that once the number of items exceed 5 items, they are not counting rationally but are rote counting. (This would be when they count, for example, 8 blocks. They touch one block and say one number as they count the first 5 blocks.
Once they get to the 6th block, however, you notice them saying two numbers as they touch it. When they touch the 6th block they might say “6,7”. When they touch the 7th block, they say “8,9”. When they touch the 8th block they say “10,12”. What does this tell you?
It tells you that they can rote count to 10 (notice they skipped 11). It tells you they can rationally count items up to 5. This lets you know that you need to provide activities that will help them count more than 5 items rationally. You now have your math goals for your classroom for the next couple of weeks. As you plan activities for math, keep in mind that you want to extend their rational counting to 8 or 10. You can do this through fun, interactive Circle Time activities, during snack time, while cooking, etc.
Once you’ve worked on this skill for a few weeks, look back at your list. Which other math skills do your children not have? Now plan for those!
How you might ask? I have 2 resources for you. If you head over to my Teaching Preschool Math article here, you’ll see a link for a free download that has (and is named!) My Favorite 13 Preschool Math Activities. It has one math activity that you can do in your classroom for each of the main 13 math process skills.
If you are looking for some training on preschool math, you’ll want to check out my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop. It is a self-study training that will help you to define each of the math process skills that preschoolers develop, learn how to assess your preschoolers’ skills, how to implement activities to support these skills and give you practice planning math activities for each interest learning center in your classroom (because math does not ONLY happen in a math interest enter!).
You can learn more about my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop by clicking here.
Knowing the math process skills that are developmentally appropriate for your preschoolers to be working on will help you to help them build a strong math foundation. These foundational skills will be what will help them to succeed in math in the elementary years! Focus on this foundation now!
Until next time,
The truth is, we do not “teach” preschool math. Math is not something we do to children! Math is all around us and is discovered by preschool children when they are provided with materials that encourage them to explore and learn about the world around them!
Preschool math is learned through hands-on activities and is ALL about your planning and not your teaching!
We can help children to rote count or memorize numbers, shapes and more however, they are memorizing names we’ve given to those symbols. They are not learning what those symbols mean or how they work if we help them memorize with flash cards or by rote counting the calendar every day.
Don’t believe me? If you have calendar time each day, ask each child, at the end of the day, which number of the month it is. Chances are, less than 20% of your preschoolers will remember the number, let along the name of the month. This is because we are teaching these things out of context – without a real-world connection that has meaning to them.
Think about what happens when someone tells us a lot of information about a topic we know little about. We remember some things but the rest is forgotten. It never makes it from our short-term memory to our long-term memory. In order for our brains to retain information it has to have meaning in context to us or it doesn’t make the cut to long-term memory! This is true of adults. This is also true of children.
There are 5 core preschool math areas which include 17 preschool math process skills! The best way to plan for them is to provide activities that help children use materials that support the learning of the skills!
Here is a summary of Math areas and skills:
Area 1 is Numbers and Operations and includes skills such as number sense, counting, one-to-one correspondence, numbers and symbols.
Area 2 is Geometry and Spatial Sense and includes shapes and spatial sense learning (under, over, next to, etc.)
Area 3 is Measurement and includes learning about weight, length, height, volume, temperature and time.
Area 4 is Patterns and Algebraic Thinking and includes exploring patterns, parts and wholes.
Area 5 is Data and includes ways to display and organize data such as sets, comparing, classifying seriation (putting things in its set order, as with puzzles or parts of a story), graphing and creating symbols and groups. As you can guess, this is a higher-level math skill.
As you can see, teaching preschool math is more than counting to 20 and recognizing numbers and shapes!
With so many math skills, how and where do we even start to provide children with the materials they need to develop all these skills? There are SO many ways including loose parts, making playdough, cooking, file folder games just to name a few. For a breakdown of each of these areas and ideas on how to provide your preschoolers with what they need to develop these skills,