Taking Orders and Taking Charge

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Young children love pretending to be adults. They often imitate adult behaviors and jobs and enjoy doing so, so why not put that drive to good use?

Dinner time provides many learning opportunities in which young children can help and feel a sense of empowerment. Provide your preschooler with a paper and pencil and allow him to take the family’s drink orders. This activity will help with pre-writing, memory, and creating a link between the spoken word and written word. 

Your child may just scribble something down, may draw a picture, or may write the first letter of the word. Older children can try their hand at spelling out the whole word. You can also make a chart for your child with the words or pictures of the drink options with check boxes.

Next, have your child count how many glasses of each type of drink are needed. Allow him to help pour and serve the beverages.

With practice, your chid will know how to read and write new words and will gain confidence.

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Learning Addition in the Pool or Bath with Sponges

Square Roots Preschool–Learning Addition in the Pool or Bath with Sponges. Sponge photo source: pan-prom.hr

Square Roots Preschool–Learning Addition in the Pool or Bath with Sponges. Sponge photo source: pan-prom.hr

Children first learn addition and subtraction by using real objects to count and group together. You’ve seen the worksheets, right? So instead of worksheets, let’s bring this concept to life in the pool or bath, keeping it fun!

• Cut up sponges to make small pieces.

• Make a floating circe (you choose how large) with a piece of yarn tied together at the ends.

• Place a group of sponges inside the yarn circle, and ask your child to tell you how many there are, an activity that helps develop one-to-one correspondence.

• Create another circle with another set of sponges and ask your child to count how many there are.

• Overlap the circles so that all of the sponges fit inside and ask your child to count them again. You’ve just introduced addition practice in a fun way! 

Start with small numbers and work your way up to larger numbers. Next, you can purchase or make sponges in number shapes, then choose numerals to represent numbers in the group. This activity will help develop the skills of one-to-one correspondence, counting, grouping combining groups, and addition. Early math should be lots of fun! This activity is a sure-fire way to get your water-loving preschooler thinking.

Learning Measurement by Splishing and Splashing

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Learning Measurement by Splishing and Splashing–Square Roots Preschool

 

When preschoolers are given the opportunity to experiment with part/whole relationships, they begin to understand measurement and basic fractions, as well as building toward addition and subtraction skills. A fun activity to help them learn the concept of measurement can be done in the bathtub or water table or–during hot summer months–in a pool.

Give your child a set of plastic measuring cups (these sets can often be found at the dollar store) and a small bucket. Let him experiment filling and pouring the water. This act is often a favorite of young children and can keep them occupied for long stretches of time. Ask questions such as “How many small cups does it take to fill up the big cup?” and “How many big cups does it take to fill up the bucket?” Your child will begin to understand that a whole has many parts.

Ask your child to put the cups in order from largest to smallest, or vice versa. Ask “Will it take more of the small cups to fill the bucket or more of the large cups?” and “Can you predict how many big cups will go into the bucket?” Then count together and see.

This activity helps children learn arithmetic, prediction, counting, estimating, and part/whole relationships. You and your child can continue to reinforce this concept in other ways, such as with apple or pizza slices.

When children are having fun, they learn concepts faster and better…they don’t even know they’re learning!

Related reading:

Teaching the Concept of Volume

Caution: Young children should never be left unattended around water.

Measuring cup image source: eco-friendlycookware.com

Play Pretend Grocery Store to Introduce the Concept of Money

Mastering the concept of money is more complicated than we might think. Children need to understand numbers, measurement, and basic fractions to grasp how money works. They may see it every day, or maybe less so, now, since debit and credit cards are more the norm. Since money and its exchange is such an important part of life, beginning to learn about it at an early age is important.

You can play pretend grocery store at home to have fun and teach the concept of money. First, gather safe empty food containers and label each clearly with a price. Start by using prices between one and ten cents. Give your child pennies, dimes, and nickels and let him select and purchase items from your “store.” Help your child recognize the numbers in the price and count his money to make sure he has enough for the items he wants to purchase. Make change, if necessary.

Then reverse the roles so that you are the shopper and your child is the grocer. If you give your child more money than is needed for the items, it will give him an opportunity to correct the mistake and provide change. Count together to make change.

As your child grows and understands the concept of money, you can introduce larger and more complex dollar amounts, so this is a game that can be played well into the elementary years.

Doing Things in Order

When a task requires one step to be completed before the next step will work, that task provides a wonderful learning opportunity for preschoolers. Learning how to complete steps in proper order is an important pre-math skill.

Making the bed is a great example of a task that requires steps to be done in a particular order and is something that your preschooler can accomplish with a little help, at first, and then all on his own. Show and talk to your child about how the sheet must be pulled up first, the comforter placed second, and how the pillow is placed on top last. Once your child gets the hang of it, allow him to do it himself. Ask him to describe what he did first, second, and third.

Making toast is another activity that requires steps to be done in a certain order. Help your child understand and execute the steps in order. First, get a slice of bread, then put it in the toaster, and last, put butter on it. What would happen if we put the butter on before we put it in the toaster? Talking about that helps illustrate the importance of taking the steps in the proper order.

Think about what tasks you do throughout the day that require steps in a particular order and narrate them for your child. Not only are you helping with pre-math skills, you’re also helping your child feel the accomplishment that goes along with completing these tasks!

Learning with Laundry

Ordinary household chores can easily become fun learning opportunities for preschoolers. Laundry sorting is a great chore to share with your preschooler. Classifying and sorting pieces of clothing by their similarities helps young children with math skills, preparing them for learning addition and subtraction.

Your preschooler can pull all of the socks, for example, out of the laundry basket and match them. He can sort shirts from pants or white items from dark colors. He can also sort clothes that belong to each family member and deliver them to the appropriate rooms. Asking your child about how many socks and how many pairs of socks there are. Knowing the difference between one sock and a pair of socks is an important concept. T-shirts or other items can be counted, supporting the concept of one-to-one correlation.

Learning with laundry supports your preschooler in learning arithmetic, classification, size, sorting, and matching. Not to mention, you might have a lot more fun folding the clothes with a little helper!

Shape Pattern Activity

At the most basic level, Math is the study of patterns. By recognizing, copying, and making their own patterns, children learn that objects can be arranged in particular ways and have a relationship to one another, an essential pre-math skill.

At Square Roots Preschool, we practice patterns throughout the day. For example, when discussing the date and looking at the calendar, our velcro date cards fall into a pattern of colors: blue, green orange, purple…blue, green, orange, purple…blue, green, orange…what comes next? Our students say, “purple!” As we count up together to today’s date, the students learn the pattern and can predict what color will come next.

Studying patterns at home can be done with a variety of objects. Colored paper is quite versatile. First, cut out multiple squares of different colors. Then place them in a pattern for your child. The younger or less experienced your child is, the simpler the pattern should be. Try two alternating colored squares to start.

Once your child grasps the basic concept of the pattern, make things a little more challenging by varying the number of squares of a particular color: red, red, green, red, red, green…As your child masters more complicated patterns, you can then introduce a variety of shapes. Your child will then need to discern that the next item isn’t just purple; it’s a purple circle. You can also ask your child to create his own pattern for you to recognize.

Starting slowly and creating more challenging patterns over time helps build your child’s confidence and develops his sequencing and problem solving skills.