Sequence, Sort, Count: How We Learn Math in Preschool
Our classroom is one big learning environment where strands of mathematical discovery are woven throughout the day. At any given time, the potential for a “math moment” exists. Children learn to make sense of their world through everyday experiences.
To stimulate a math moment, we use a variety of materials and ideas to create an environment in which children explore math concepts. Sometimes I will set up a game on one of our tables for the children to play together.
Other times the children will take the games off of the shelves and organize the games with their friends on their own.
Puzzles are always available to the children.
We have matching and guessing games, dominoes, pattern blocks, and collections of objects that all give children opportunities to recognize numbers and build math skills.
We encourage number play by providing various materials/objects, both natural and man-made that children can count, match, sort and order.
How many bears will it take to make the scale move from to 2?
As you look around the classroom you will see children engaged in math moments. In the block corner, children will construct cities (by sorting and organizing) and use words like long, short, small, and tall.
Can you use different blocks to build a wall?
Children play and experiment with shapes. How many triangles can be put together to make a square?
Each morning we take attendance using our attendance chart.
How many friends are we missing? How many friends are here today? When we take a class vote on what stories to read or what group game to play, children compare quantities.
When we cook in the classroom, I have a recipe for us to follow and point out the different measurements.
Children begin to learn about numbers from everyday situations that mean something to them. Adults play a key role in modeling language and supporting children to explore mathematical ideas during play and real-life situations.
Parents can also accept the challenge to find math moments at home. With your child, identify numbers and shapes in your mail. As you cook or do errands together, you can make comments or ask questions that encourage meaningful math understandings. How many people do we need to set a place for at the table? Children love to be consulted on such issues.
Point out where numbers are used in your home (e.g. phone, computer, clock, TV remote, calculator, scales), as this helps your child to understand that numbers can be written and have practical use (e.g. to count or measure). Have fun exploring math together!