Math fun with transportation toys is easy and makes math relevant. Kids develop familiarity and confidence when they experience math as part of play.
Children often play with cars and trucks by zooming them. This can be math. Cars go fast, but one will go faster. This is a comparison. Young toddlers may not use the words fast, faster, and fastest, but they know the idea. Instead, they might say one car is fast, fast.
Comparing is part of math. Putting tractors in order of size is math play. When kids are playing with cars, trucks, and other toys we can occasionally add comments, such as, “This car is small. This car is big.” Kids may find a different big one to show us.
A pile of cars is fun to count. Start with just a few. When counting cars with your child, place either your finger or your child’s on each toy as you count. Number sense is more than saying the words in an accurate order, it’s also experiencing each number. In order to understand what ‘three’ means, kids need to have a sense of ‘threeness.” When does 3 cars look like? How about 3 trucks? Ask your child to make a group of a certain number of toys. If there’s a shoebox available, it can be turned into a garage. Will that number of cars fit in the garage?
Another critical aspect of counting is that one number goes with one item. Each time we say a number that means one more. One way to develop this concept is by matching. One car goes on one race track. This is called one-to-one correspondence or one-to-one matching.
Parking lots are real world examples of one-to-one correspondence. Only one car fits in each parking space. You can make a parking lot with a shoe box lid and dividing it into spaces. A parking garage can be made out of blocks or Lego for more one-to-one math fun with transportation toys.
Everyday as kids play there will be opportunities to experience math hands-on. This is what develops a positive, easy familiarity so kids feel confident when it comes to learning about math. As many as 1 in 4 kids are burdened with math anxiety. We can change this easily by finding ways to include math in children’s play. Can you add any other ways to play with transportation toys?