Reading. Writing. ‘Rithmetic. We’re all familiar with the three ‘R’s. But when it comes to the latter, we frequently overlook the value of math. But math isn’t just an essential component of academic achievement. It’s one of the fundamental components of cognition.
Just as we learn to associate objects with words, we learn to order our impressions through numbers. It’s a value system. Without it, there would be no concept of money. No concept of time. No concept of quantity. And no concept of order.
We take arithmetic for granted because we’re as familiar with it as we are with language. And also because the basics of it have been drilled into us from an early age. But as parents, think of how frequently we still have to rely on calculators for multiplication and division—both of which are basic elements of math.
Children, on the other hand, tend to have a natural inclination towards counting. For them, math isn’t boring. It’s fun. You’ve probably heard your child make up their own counting games. This is actually a positive way of learning. For children, one of the quickest ways to absorb new knowledge is to make a game out of it. And through games, knowledge isn’t merely a question of routine memorization of tables. It’s a question of knowledge coming alive.
Games are one of the primary ways that educators teach preschool children new concepts. But games don’t have to be confined to school. Or your child’s imagination. Here are 10 of the best counting games you can play at home with your kids—and continue their voyage of discovery.
Cheerios Number Tracing
Help make math both fun and tasty for your child! With just a magic marker, poster board and a handful of cereal, you can teach your preschooler the basic rules of counting. Simply trace 4 or 5 empty boxes next to random numbers and ask your child to put the appropriate amount of Cheerios in each box. You’d be surprised at how much food can be both a motivator and a common denominator (pun intended) when it comes to learning!
Fill The Cup
This is a great activity to play with your children whether you have one, two or six kids. It helps teach the basic fundamentals of addition through game learning. Take several large handfuls of small objects (beads are ideal.) Use one large central cup to hold them. Now place several small cups for each player and have them roll a pair of dice, adding the appropriate number of objects to their cup (you may have to fetch more.) Keep a pad of paper handy—it will help you demonstrate later how 3 + 3 = 6, for example. Whoever fills their cup first wins.
Everyone remembers hopscotch, don’t they? This is a little variation, but can still be a fun way to teach your preschooler numbers while having fun outdoors. Simply create a grid of 10 or more numbers jumbled up in random out of chalk in your driveway. Have your child roll a pair of dice. For each number, mark an ‘x’ in the appropriate box. If the dice lands on the same number twice, have them jump or hop up and down (you do, too.) Do this until all boxes are marked.
Race To The Finish Line
Simply create a grid on a large piece of posterboard of 80 or more squares (it should look like 2 long vertical rows of boxes of 40 or more squares side by side.) Have your preschooler move their object the appropriate number of squares according to each roll of a pair of dice. Whoever gets to the finish line first wins. While this might seem simple and repetitive, repetition is one of the best ways to teach a child; and one which also increases their attention span.
Turn snack time into learning time with this delicious and informative game. Simply number boxes a card 1-12 for each player involved. For each roll of a pair of dice, have each player select the appropriate number of Goldfish crackers and check off each box. If they reach the same number twice, select none. Whoever has no empty boxes at the end, wins.
Color Until You’re 100
What kid doesn’t like to color? Now they can combine both coloring and counting at the same time. Create a grid of 100 squares per player. Grab a handful of small colored beads. Have each player roll a pair of dice. For each number, have them count the appropriate number of beads at random and fill in their grid according to the color of their beads; for example, if they roll a 7 and select 3 red beads and 4 yellow ones, the numbers 1-7 on their would be filled with 3 squares red and 4 squares yellow. Whoever reaches 100 first wins. This may seem time-consuming, but it can both teach your child while encouraging their creativity—the resulting patterns can be quite beautiful.
Smack ‘Em Beads
This is a great way for a preschooler to let out their frustrations while learning. All you need is a handful of beads, post it notes and a fly swatter and a pair of dice. Number 6 notes 1-6. Have them roll the dice and place the appropriate number of beads onto the appropriate post it note. Each time they get the number correct, they get to swat at the beads the appropriate number of times. Again, this teaches by repetition; making it perfect for toddlers just learning to count.
Time To Crack The Eggs
This is a great activity that teaches numbers combined with motor skills. Simply cut out and number a random amount of eggs out of colored paper. For each roll of a pair of dice, have your child punch the appropriate number of “cracks” in their corresponding egg with a hole puncher. The first egg to fall apart wins. Keep in mind that because motor skills are involved, this isn’t ideal for toddlers who are still developing their sense of coordination.
The Little Florist
This activity combines both crafts and numbers in a fun and colorful way. Cut a random number of “stems” and centers out of construction paper and glue to a poster board. Number each center. Cut a large number of “petals” for your child to glue on. For each roll of a pair of dice, they have to glue the same number of petals on to the appropriate stem. Do this until each flower is complete.
Number By Color
This is a great breakfast activity that teaches both color and math but be warned. This uses colored cereal which often contains artificial sweeteners, so should only be conducted occasionally with your preschooler. Using a bowl of colored cereal as a chart, create a card with the appropriate colors (most often have no more than 3 or 4.) With a pair of dice, have your child select the appropriate amount of cereal and sort by both color and number. The object is to do so until the entire bowl is finished.
Need more great tips on how to continue your child’s education journey at home? At Imagine Nation Learning Center, we’re just as devoted to connecting with families as we are to your child’s early education. For more information or to schedule a tour at any one of over 7 different locations throughout Texas, visit us at https://imaginenationcenter.com/