How do we experience maths? I’m sure most of us think of it as sums such as calculating VAT on an item or adding and subtracting to balance our cheque account. Actually, I’m sure most of us don’t even think about it – it is so ingrained that we just do it. Maths is so much more than balancing the budget and is incorporated into our lives in so many ways. I was baking banana bread last night and it occurred to me that the ingredients in the recipe must be put together in a specific way or the outcome would not be very tasty! Each has to be measured (maths) and combined (maths) in a specific order or yuck! Don’t want to go there!
Puzzles and patterns are some of my favourite maths skills and help solidify some of the most basic concepts of maths. Patterns can be seen all around us and a walk in the park is all that is needed to see how nature does this; from the shape and layout of the petals on a flower to the veins on a leaf, all can be used to help children discover patterns. At home there are many things with noticeable patterns that can be used, from the knobs on drawers to the spots on a dress. Make finding patterns a game to help your child see them. Puzzles are my best! From jigsaw to tangram, crosswords to Tetris, they are all puzzles of one kind or another.
There are many different ways to help your child learn the concepts that maths requires without it seeming like they are learning and which use everyday household items. Pegs, buttons, string, playdough, crayons etc can all be used to create simple fun activities for your child. Here are some ideas:
- How about drawing a big number on a page and using a roll of playdough to outline it or if your child is older, use string
- Lay squares of coloured paper (or building blocks, lego pieces etc)to create a sequence of colours and ask your child to mimic it
- Collect leaves from the park or garden and sort by size or colour – then use them to create some art!
- Make some cupcakes with your child and when iced, ask your child to put the sprinkles on in a specific shape or to only use a specific colour In your child’s colouring book, mark off sections of the picture and ask them to colour each in a different colour (you can even put in a ‘colour by number’ key).
- Write a number on a piece of card and ask your child to peg the correct number of pegs
Here are some links to interesting articles about maths and pre-schoolers:
What fun things are you doing with your child to help them understand the many facets of maths?