Using kids toys for math is not just fun, it’s easy too. Instead of special math toys, cars, stuffies, blocks, legos, and other toys are great for math. They are often much less expensive as well.
Families do not need a math gene or a separate playroom to do math with toys. Does your child have any puzzles? We might not think of these as encouraging math but kids learn about spaces and shapes, different kinds of lines, and how to solve problems.
Dinosaurs come in a tremendous variety and nearly all kids, both boys and girls, have a collection of at least a few. Kids can line up their dinosaurs and count them. They can sort them into different groups, such as the scary ones and the ones that eat just plants.
Making categories is another important math and thinking strategy. Kids have to ask themselves questions and make choices in order to put a dinosaur in any group. Parents and caregivers can ask kids to tell us about their choices for more connecting. The same fun can happen with stuffies.
Plain blocks are fabulous for lots of math fun. All kids like to build towers to see how high they can go before falling over—the towers that is, not the kids. As kids stack them up, count the blocks with them. Kids figure out that one block is one number and as the blocks go higher, so do the numbers.
Construction toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. When kids create with these toys they are manipulating sizes and shapes with their hands, much like grown-up engineers do in their heads.
Cars, trucks, and trains and other vehicle toys go the distance for math. When one car goes farther than another, kids are comparing. They will figure out different angles to make cars and trucks go faster and farther. Counting and grouping are two more ways to have fun with cars.
Kids, like adults, will have likes and dislikes. They will be very interested in some toys and not others. No matter what kids play with, there will be ways for using kids’ toys for math fun. How do you encourage math as your child plays?