Toddler Tuesday: Math Edition

I believe that I started to hate math around 5th grade. I did okay in it- but it was never my favorite. It wasn't until I started teaching that I really fell in love with it. It's no secret to parents that the way they teach math now is totally different... and it is AWESOME! When I went to school 10 x 10 = 100. I couldn't tell you why, but now the math teaches WHY.  It's easily my favorite subject to teach.

Math is everywhere - literally, in our lives constantly. Bake with your kid, talk about measurement, count the cups as they go into the batter, set the timer and watch it count up (or down!), then count how many cookies each person gets.

I know, I know, everyone heads to flash cards. They have their place, sure. But until your child understands the CONCEPT of math, flashcards only work for memorization. Kids have to get the concept of numbers. They also have to understand how our base of ten works. It's a process, and we didn't learn that way, so I know it seems like another world.

Start with counting. Involve it in everywhere you go and everything you do.

  • Grocery store: How many apples do we have? How many yellow fruits are there? 
  • While Playing: Count the number of steps up the slide, count the number of seconds the hula hoop stays up, say the numbers aloud on hopscotch, count seconds aloud and see how far your kids can run
  • While reading: How many blue cars are on this page? How many words are on the page? If each character eats a cookie, how many will be left? 
  • While driving: how many billboards did we see? How many miles have we have traveled? How many hours have we traveled? How many animals can we count? 
  • While getting dressed: How many socks are on your feet? How many seconds does it take to get dressed? (bonus: this might encourage them to dress faster!) 
  • While in the bath: Count your fingers and toes, make math problems from pictures that you draw with soap pens. 

Encourage math talk and play
  • Teach your toddler words like more and less early on. 
  • Buy the shape sorters. They may seem old school, but they help kids with spatial relationships and you can start with geometric shape recognition. Count the sides. Talk about the differences in a square and a rectangle. (For you non math teachers- rectangles have four sides and 90 degree angles, so squares ARE a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares. Math is fun!) 
  • Be sure that your child understands numerical representation. This means that the number four can be represented as four dots, four oranges, the word four, or the number 4. 
  • Help children to identify patterns. Patterns are a part of our natural world. Day and night, seasons, days of the week, and daily routines are all patterns. Clapping and stomping out patterns, dancing in a series of patterns, and the like all help your child understand what a pattern is. Keep in mind that there are both growing and repeating patterns. 
  • Check out the ever growing list of math games for kids. There are so many math apps out there too. Lots of them are even free. 
  • Find songs with numbers in them! Don't just stop at "1-2 Buckle my shoe." There are hundreds or songs out there with numbers in them. Last year for R's birthday I made an entire playlist just of songs with the number one in the title.