Pirates should be good at math; think of all the counting they do and counting treasure is a fun learning and kindergarten readiness activity for kids. At first, as children count they do not use numbers accurately but lots of experiences counting a variety of objects helps children develop a basic number sense. Pirates count treasure but practically anything can be treasure, like blocks–especially the yellow ones–bottle lids, rocks, beads, carrot circles, fishy crackers, whatever is handy. After all, pirates love to count.
It seems obvious to us, but one number only counts one item. Kids need to count over and over before they understand this basic idea. We could easily tell this to kids but they need to figure it out for themselves. Sometimes, when your child is counting, help the counting finger point to or touch just one thing at a time. Remember, kids will make mistakes and mix up the numbers, but this is part of learning. Pirates may like to put all their treasures in a line for counting.
As kids play, they gradually develop an idea of how many items belong to each number. Some pirates might be ready for some simple stories. If a pirate has 4 treasures and s/he finds one more, now how many treasures? If a pirate eats all the treasure, how many treasures are left? Simple stories like these help children understand that numbers can be used in ordinary, everyday ways. Of course, pirates are not exactly ordinary and everyday, but it still counts. Another activity is simply making small groups of treasure, such as 3 items here and 7 over there, and asking kids which one is more? Understanding “more” is also part of number sense.
For older kids, a fun pirate game is to shake a dice, check the number of dots and count out that many things. This helps kids learn numbers visually, too. Children all learn at different rates and some can count earlier and higher than others. In preschool and kindergarten, there will be lots of math activities, but the experiences and play with numbers that kids have at home all add up. Does your pirate like to count?