Preschool Prep: Developing Early Math Skills

Help your child in developing his early math skills while he is a preschooler or in the lower elementary grades with games. Learning is more fun and memorable with games. Here are some fun, everyday ideas for reinforcing the basic math concepts. 

Counting Sticks for Base 10
Understanding that numbers work in tens is a simple concept. Instruct the child to write numerals on popsicle sticks. When he gets to 10, he bundles the ten sticks together with a rubber band. Then he can start on the next 10 numbers, numbering each set from 1 to 10. Eventually, he will have 10 bundles and can practice counting by tens to 100.

Counting bears can be sorted by color into colored cups. Counting as he goes, the child drops the bears into the cups. Any sort of colored objects are fun to count. Practice with crayons, pencils, poker chips, coins, buttons, marbles, etc.

Simple Math Play
Simple board games with spinners or dice can be used to teach counting. Use dice for adding and subtracting. Throw the dice and add the dots. Take turns with the child. Compete for the fastest answer with the winner throwing the dice on the next turn.

Dominoes are another fun way to teach math. Turn the dominoes over. Pick them up until someone finds a double, which has the same number of dots on each end. Lay it in the center of the table and add by finding one to match an end, continuing until all are added. Count out the sums aloud as you go along, for example, "3 + 7 = 10."  You can also turn all the dominoes face down and add the ends as each is turned over.

Other math skills can be developed through cooking by measuring ingredients. This is a great way to learn fractions. A child can learn division through cooking the food and serving it (division) and counting by setting the table (counting plates, chairs, spoons, etc.). Helping to buy ingredients and supplies for a meal teaches counting and money skills.

When calculating scores in board games like scrabble and cards, kids get adding practice. Flash cards  encourage children to memorize math facts. Making his own set of flash cards with index cards can reinforce math lessons.

Calendars and Computer Games
Creating a calendar teaches measuring, geometric shapes, lines and numbering to 31. It also has the side benefit of teaching the spelling of months and days of the week.

Simple computer games can also be used to build math skills also. Having fun while the math concepts and facts become familiar to the brain is a happy way for a child to learn. Computer games offer plenty of repetition, which is beneficial to most students.

The basic math skills should be reinforced every day through work and play so that skills develop and prepare the child for higher math he will encounter as he progresses in his education.

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