Fun Math Activities for Preschoolers

Preschoolers learn to enjoy Math provided parents and teachers make it a fun activity. Yes, math can be fun, as this article demonstrates. Follow the simple math-related activities for young children and equip your young one for success at school.

Certain activities are designed to stimulate the brain in young children. Specific activities can help develop attention span, bolster working memory and strengthen other rudimentary cognitive skills. Research indicates that maths skills in young children can foretell the future of their academic accomplishments in math as well as reading, all through primary school.

Parents don't need special skills or tools to ignite interest in the subject in their young child. Simply engage the preschooler in math activities, which while being fun, double up as a means for the child to develop a strong base in the subject.

Number concept activities

1, 2, 3, 4, 5…counting comes so easily to adults. Young children struggle with numbers and need help in learning to count and understanding the concept of numbers. Children learn the correct sequence of numbers through counting. However, the sequence means nothing to them, unless they first develop an elementary insight of numbers. Numbers begin to mean something when they are associated with countable things.

Number concepts can be split into three categories:
• One-to-one correspondence: This is a concept where objects are counted just once. Example: Counting the fingers on the hand illustrates the sequence of numbers
• Cardinality:Here the last item to be counted sums the total number of items. Example: Counting fingers on both hands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, where the last digit indicates a total of ten fingers
• Invariance:This demonstrates that there is no change in the number of objects when they are arranged differently. Example: A stash of pencils will continue to be the same number, no matter how they are arranged - lined up, bunched up or scattered

This is simple for us, but to a preschooler, it is a major lesson.

Counting activities

• Activity 1:The play-way method is the best way for a child to learn how to count. Start with everyday objects – count things around the house. Count the bows on your child's dress or the chairs around the dining table, the building blocks in their toy basket. Start with things that the child relates with and always begin with few objects, not more than five. Challenge the child to count more objects only after they have learnt to count to five
• Activity 2: Place small objects, such as Lego blocks, in a row. And have your child count them. After the child finishes counting them correctly, rearrange them into two rows and have them count them again. Try it again, this time placing the blocks in a circle. Your child may count the blocks each time to get the answer. Your child will have grasped number invariance, when they don't need to count the rearranged blocks, for the answer
• Activity 3:Clubbing objects that can be paired together is another way of reinforcing the concept of learning one-to-one correspondence. For instance, shoes and socks. Get your child to count and pair them together. The objective is to show the child that the pairs are made up of the same number
• Activity 4:Bring out board games that involve counting. Ludo, snakes and ladders, and other board games involve counting moves to the number displayed on the dice

Geometry and dimensional understanding

Are geometry and dimensions difficult for young children to comprehend? Not really. Children experience geometrical shapes and spatial relations all through their immediate environment. It is just a matter of time when they become consciously aware of them, with a little nudge from the parents.

The objects in your home and outside of it come in varied shapes and sizes. Squares, circles, ovals, triangles and rectangles, etc., are present all around. Introduce your child to the wonders of those shapes and sizes. The big rectangular door, the small round coffee table, the square window - explain the shapes to your child and help them identify them.
• Make a game of it – your child wins a point each time they identify a shape correctly. Explore your home with your child for round shaped objects – the wheels on their tricycle, bangles, bottle caps, plates and more. Do a different shape each time
• Some items don't have a defined shape that can be categorised as round or square etc. In such case talk about its spatial relation to another object. Reference size by asking if an object is bigger than another object – is the tree bigger than the bush? Ask related questions when flipping through a picture book – is the puppy smaller than its mama? Which is bigger, a truck or a car?
• Ask questions about the placement of items. Is the book inside the book cabinet or outside? Where is the milk cup? Is it on the table or under it?
• As your child develops their understanding of shapes and dimensions; it's time to introduce them to try something new. Try this wonderful spatial language exercise. Draw the layout of your home, the child's room or the living room and have your child mark objects inside the layout, just as they are in the room. Let the child mark the doors and the windows, the furniture, indoor plants and the cupboards. Encourage the child by posing questions about the objects. Which objects are closest to each other, in distance? Which objects are furthest from each other? This simple exercise improves your child's spatial perception

Activities for learning measurement

Measurements take different forms – weight, quantity, size, height, width and length, etc., are its various forms. Involve your preschooler as you go about your daily chores, to help embed concepts of measurements in their mind.
• Introduce your child to size – mamma's shoes are bigger, compared to the child's shoes. The balcony door is wider than the bathroom door. Daddy is taller than the child. You get the drill
• Similarly, introduce your child to fractions by pointing to a half cup of milk and a full cup. Ask the child to pour you half a glass of water. Have the child pour two half glasses of water, to get a full glass of water. Don't worry about the mess they might make; remember the lesson learnt is more important
• Show them how to differentiate between heavy and light items. Give them items from your pantry and have them tell you which is lighter or heavier. Use masala packets, dal packets, biscuit packets etc.
• Stretch out your arm and have your child do the same, and ask them whose arm is longer, and whose is shorter

The above lessons revolve not just around auditory learning but lay stress on child participation. The child learns through practical experiences.

Math need not be boring; it can be made fun if you involve your child in engaging activities. Young children are always watching and learning from their environment. Make learning conducive with simple learning aids that are available with you and watch your child touch new milestones in learning new things. Spend quality time with your child and make it happen.