math concepts

Before Kindergarten #11 Familiarity with Numbers, Letters, Rhyming Words

Are Numbers a Friend for Your Child?

To Dr. Dan Gartell, readiness is a state of mind, not one of knowledge. Familiarity with , numbers, letters, and rhyming words helps kids’ peace of mind. Being in a new situation like daycare, playschool, preschool, or kindergarten is exciting but also scary for kids. Every bit of familiarity helps. If children have played with letters, numbers, and words at home, encountering them at a center or school is like meeting a friend.

before kindergarten familiarity with numbers letters rhyming words

Familiarity with numbers does not mean flash cards and drills. It means noticing numbers all around us, on signs, houses, packages at the store, toy cars, etc. We can use numbers in ordinary, everyday situations from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. What number does the clock say? Count the buttons on a shirt. Are three spoons of cereal enough in one bowl? Make sure there are 10 toes in socks. Are there enough plates on the table? Count the steps to the car. At the playground, kids can tell us how many pushes they want on the swings.

familiarity with numbers


Toy cars often have numbers of them, but other toys have numbers too. When kids make block towers, is one higher than another? More and less are math concepts, as in empty and full. Kids can fill and dump a pail of sand. A muffin tin is perfect for exploring one-to-one matching. Kids can put one toy or one apple in each space. Figuring out one number for one item is critical for number sense. Games use numbers too.

math activities and games

Sand, foam or magnetic numbers, and play dough are numbers kids can touch and feel. Numbers poured on pancakes are one kids can taste. Books and songs about numbers are ones kids can see and hear. But please, No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed.

math stories for kids

Unfortunately, one in four children will have math anxiety. Is this something that affects you as an adult? Giving kids lots of opportunities and experiences to develop familiarity with numbers turns them into welcome friends instead of scary enemies. Are they part of your child’s day?

(Tomorrow and the next day, we’ll check out letters and words. In the meantime, there is more on the Before I Go to Kindergarten infographic checklist.)

Halloween Treat Learning Activities: Counting and Graphing

Surprisingly, even toddlers and preschoolers can make a simple graph with Halloween treats–it’s easy as can be to make a bar graph using, of course, chocolate bars. (Pun fully intended.) There are other math skills and concepts that kids can develop with Halloween treats too.

math activities with Halloween candyCounting is a math skill that needs lots of practice. As adults we think that’s it’s obvious the higher the number, the more the amount but kids have not yet linked each number with how many. To do this takes lots of experiences. Halloween treats can be counted in many ways. First, kids can simply count, or if they are not ready for that, they can pretend count. You could also put a small handful of only a few treats to one side and a larger handful of treats close by and ask your child which handful is more. While kids can tell just by looking which one is more, by counting them out they understand counting is used to tell about ‘more’.

The bar graph is fun to do. Have kids sort out all the bar candy. Then they line up each group in rows. Which row is longer? Young kids may line up a group of bars end-to-end like a road but the bars can also be placed vertically in a column, like bricks. Now which one has more? (For kids that need more of a challenge, you can look for tricks. For instance, in the photo why is the row with Reese cups longer than the Twix? These rows have the same number.)

Another important math concept is one-to-one matching. Using two groups of different kinds of candy, kids can make partners. For instance, one bar might match with one lollipop. This creates the brain pathway for figuring out that one item goes with one number.

These are just a few of the math tricks that can be done with Halloween treats. The candies are treats for eating as well as treats for thinking and learning. What other math ideas can kids do with Halloween candy?

Soccer Can Help Kids Learn Basic Math Concepts

Have you been watching any World Cup Soccer? Soccer games use some basic math concepts–most important is the score–and can help kids as they learn and develop their number sense.

soccer fun and learning mathIt is easy for kids to understand that each time a ball goes in the net that it is counted. As children sort out that numbers mean ‘how many’, they start to count. Actually, kids begin by just saying the numbers. For counting, children need to figure out that one number goes with one thing.  This is called one-to-one correspondence and is a basic math concept.

Being able to match one item to one number is a key to understanding how the number system works. Children may be able to say numbers in order but may not necessarily figure out that each time they count means one more. Kids need to understand this 1-to-1 relationship first so they can link one number to one object or action.

For kids to grasp this idea they need to have lots of play experiences with one to one matching. Soccer can be one of those close encounters of the number kind. One kick that goes in the net means one number. In the backyard or park, rather than having 2 different sides, it’s fun for whoever is playing to have just one net and anybody can score. Of course, this isn’t like real soccer where a ball in the net is counted as 1 for one team and the next ball in the net can be a number 1 again as long as it’s the opposing team. Otherwise, it’s counted as 2. If the other team hasn’t scored yet, then a 1 can come after 2, or 3, or even more. Just keeping score in a game can be complicated for kids.

There are lots of other ways to play with one-to-one matching at home: one plate for everyone at dinner, one person on each chair, one shoe on each foot. Kids will think of their own ideas for matching, or maybe that should be mathing? How many numbers does this math fun and learning score?

Kindergarten Readiness – Fairy Tale Math

I’m reluctant to mention the word snow in case it triggers more cold, thick rain. I’m beginning to wonder if spring isn’t just a fairy tale? Snow White is another fairy tale that is unfairly dismissed because it seems to be one more example of a helpless female that is saved by a prince. The symbolism in … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Fairy Tale Math

Kindergarten Readiness – Moose #5

This moose topic really is on the loose! The activities  just keep horning their way in–oops, I mean antlering their way in. But it shows how parents and caregivers can take an idea that captures kids and expand it to include all kinds of readiness projects. For today, some moose math. Draft some small blocks or … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Moose #5