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.)

Dinosaur Craft and Number Fun for Dinovember

From math to music, yoga to crafts, there are many ways to have Dinovember fun. This dinosaur craft is creative, colorful, and counts.

This dino play-of-the-day just needs a few items that you likely have already. To start, adult hands need to cut a dinosaur shape out of thicker paper or light cardboard. We used the sides of a cereal box and cut out two pieces, one for the front and one for the back. Kid hands get to paint the dinosaur however they want. With  paint dabbers, Little Sister tried a few spots of each color here and there before deciding she wanted lots of green. Then, she did the spots closer together to cover most of the dinosaur. To the head, she added two googly eyes.

The legs of the dinosaur are  toilet paper roll cut into two halves or rings. Since the roll is thicker to cut, adult hands better snip two slits, one on each side, not quite half way down. To make the dinosaur stand, just slide the body into the slits on the rings. It may need some adjusting but should stand as long as the leg pieces are close to the tail and head.

Ten wooden clothespins make the spiny plates on the back of the dinosaur. If interested, kids can  paint the legs and clothespins too. For some math fun, I wrote the numbers 1 to 10 on the clothespins. You can skip this step and just let kids clip on the spikes, as long as they are dry.

Little Sister, who is 4 years old, does know what the numbers look like. She picked out the clothespin with number 1 and placed it at the head of her dinosaur. Although she could have used either side, she used the one with the head pointing right, so the 1 clothespin was on her right as well. She then attached the 2 clothespin farther down. Instead of putting the 3 after the two, she started mixing up the numbers, giggling as she did so. She thought putting the numbers incorrectly was a great joke, especially when she got to 10. She read the numbers as to their incorrect order and changed 10 to 20, trying to keep a straight face, but going into peals of laughter. She named the dinosaur Spikey and introduced it to Charlotte, the Really Big Dinosaur.

This dinosaur craft was lots of fun for both of us. Might Spike The Dino  come and play at your house?

Math Fun Around the House: Laundry

Having some math fun around the house helps kids feel comfortable and confident with math. Did you know there are ways to have math fun with laundry?

math around the houseBesides all the time in the kitchen, laundry is a never ending task with kids. Unless you are very organized and already have a system the dirty clothes will need to be sorted into lights and darks. Once the laundry is washed and dried, the clean clothes will need to be sorted. This time instead of lights and darks, the groups will be for the members of the family. Sometimes, the items will be further sorted into kinds of clothes like pants, socks, shirts, etc.

Aren’t you glad kids can help with all of this?

math around the houseSorting items into groups is a math skill. In math, this is called making sets. Generally, categorizing is an important strategy for thinking and coping with large amounts of information. As kids help, they are practicing math.

Clothes often have patterns. While sorting the laundry, you can show your child stripes, dots, checks, and other patterns. Brains are always checking for patterns because they condense information too. Some clothes might have basic shapes like circles, squares, triangles and rectangles.

letting kids help around the houseSizes are not something predetermined. They need relationships. For instance, kid socks are small but mom socks are big—sometimes. Mom socks are small and dad socks are big. When all three are used, some are small, some are medium and some are big. Pants and t-shirts will also be different sizes. These words are easier for kids to understand when the situation is so meaningful.

Speaking of socks, because there are so many, counting them can use a lot of numbers. Do you remember odd and even numbers from school? Socks definitely show kids about odd numbers.

Matching socks to make pairs is a good activity for kids. They learn about same and different as they try to find socks that make a pair.

One of the challenges for teachers is how to make learning meaningful and fun. Laundry is one way parents can make math meaningful for kids. Any laundry to math, er… wash, at your house?

Come back to the blog tomorrow for more math fun around the house.