Thursday, April 17, 2014

My daughter is 7 now, and she really enjoys math. Her number sense is very strong, and she grasps math concepts easily and intuitively. How did we start with math? Read on to find out.

Exploring quantity and numbers with kids through play and daily life

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Einstein Never Used Flash Cards

Einstein Never Used Flashcards
I highly recommend Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek to every parent of a young child. When I first heard of it, I thought that the book will be somewhat theoretical, but I really enjoyed reading it when my daughter was about 2. Einstein Never Used Flash Cards describes a lot of research on child development in the terms that are simple to understand. The main premise of the book is that children learn best through unstructured play and not through any kind of formal instruction with educational props. The book really spoke to our own approaches and also contained a lot of practical advice on what to do to encourage certain areas of development at certain ages.
One of the first chapters talked about how children learn about numbers and quantity and I was amazed to discover how "on the spot" the authors were when describing the steps and mistakes on the path to mathematical awareness. Every chapter ends with Bringing the Lessons Home section summarizing the advice in it, and we used a lot of suggestions from those sections while guiding our daughter and helping her explore the world around it. Here are math strategies on quantity explorations that really worked for us (some are taken from Einstein Never Used Flash Cards and some are my own).

1. Playing With Blocks

The very best way to learn about numbers is to manipulate objects, line them up, compare sets, and so on. From early ages we encouraged our daughter to play with Duplo, wooden blocks, objects in the recycle box and talked about shapes, patterns, quantities and sizes.

2. Hunting for Numbers

You can find rectangles in buildings and hexagons in stop signs, but numbers will also appear when you look for them, especially in the places likes shops, gas stations, even toys. We are still looking for numbers when we go on hiking trips. This is the photo Smarty taken recently – alas, 4 is reversed!

3. Play Board Games

Hi_Ho-CherryOOur daughter loved board games from very early age. I would say that Hi-Ho Cherry-O is invaluable in introducing addition, subtraction, and concepts of more or less.

4. Introduce Measuring Instruments

Young children passionately want to be taken seriously and have access to “toys for adults”. Between ages of 2 and 3 our daughter was delighted to play with a kitchen timer, pitchers for liquid measurements, and with rulers. Of course, she was not able to use these instruments properly at the time, but I believe that this early exposure helped her grasp measuring very easily later when she was ready for it. And, yes, there is a story behind her extremely short bangs (her Papa got a little carried away cutting her hair, an example of misjudging quantity).

5. Get Your Young Child In the Kitchen


The next best thing to learning in play is learning while doing meaningful activities and watching parents measuring, dividing and adding ingredients. Even young kids can rise to the challenge of cutting as many cookies as possible from a piece of flattened dough.

6. Read Books

Anno Counting Book
I estimate that we easily read a thousand books just in one year from age 2 and age 3 (before that age Smarty had a lot of favorites that she wanted to read over and over again). Many of those books introduced numbers, quantity, and counting in various ways. You can find a giant list of math books at Love2Learn2day, and I wrote a guest post about our favorite 10 math books for 10 years of life for This Reading Mama.

Your Turn:

Exploring quantity and numbers with kids through play and daily life

Share your ways to explore quantity and numbers with young kids.

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Ticia said...

For us it was Monopoly Junior, I played that way too many times.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Lily LOVES to help in the kitchen! She helps me make dinner nearly every day.

Cindy said...

Great post! Thank you for including my math book list!
Cindy @ love2learn2day :)

Ritchil Shafer said...

What fun ways to learn math! Thanks for these great tips!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

The kitchen has always been a favorite place for math for us. The kids are also fond of real life math - counting money, telling time, estimating distances, figuring percents for discounts...the math that pops up constantly around us.

Carrie said...

Board games definitely got her counting. We also are always in the kitchen together. Great post!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

Susan F Williams said...

My kids went through a period where they measured everything with a ruler! We always enjoy working in the kitchen together too. Thanks for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop!

Susan F Williams said...

My kids love measuring, the tape measure was their favorite tool for a long time. Thanks for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop!

Lynda Grasso said...

Thanks for all the easy ideas! Also, I just found the Einstein book at my library. Can't wait to start reading it!

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

Going to have to check out this book! I agree with the playful learning method - and I'm happy to find that we've been doing the things on this list already!

Deborah Nielson said...

I love all of these ideas. We love playing games at our house, and also working in the kitchen. Most of my kids number sense has come from game playing, and one of our favorites is pokemon.