I think the easiest place to start is with counting. It’s so natural to count things – how many fingers on your hand, how many cheerios on the high chair tray, how many books on the floor. As with all the concepts we’ve talked about, it doesn’t have to be a designated activity so much as something you do as you go throughout the day. Sing songs or say rhymes that involve counting such as One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians, Five Little Ducks, or Ten in the Bed. Go to the library and check out books with stories that incorporate numbers. A couple of our favorites were the “Five Little Monkeys” books and Ten Apples Up On Top.
Continue along the same line with concepts like comparisons. As you play with toys, comment on which ones are larger and which toys are smaller. Build two stacks of blocks and talk about the fact that one is taller and the other is shorter (if you can get that in before the stacks are knocked over!) Have your child hold two objects and point out that one is heavier than the other. As your child understands these differences, you can make a game out of lining up a stack of blocks or toys in order of size, height or weight.
As you move into number recognition, have numbers made from various materials available for them to handle. Felt or magnetic numbers are fun to play with when your child can attach them to an appropriate surface. We have used puzzles that had you place the number in the corresponding space. At this point, you could also begin to slowly introduce board or card games that involve counting and number recognition. You can purchase games or make simple ones of your own; a small Bingo game would be easy to create. On a piece of paper or cardstock, mark off an appropriate number of squares and write a number in each. Choose small objects to use as markers and compete against your child to see who gets BINGO first.
Next Tuesday we’ll talk more about developing math skills. If you have ideas for teaching early math skills or would like to see a different subject addressed in future editions of Teaching Tuesday, please leave a comment and let me know.