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.

A Commute of Counting

 

A Commute of Counting. Child image source: moms.popsugar.com

A Commute of Counting. Child image source: moms.popsugar.com

Young children learn through every experience they have, and simple games during times that are typically a bit boring for them is a great way to keep them entertained and teach them valuable skills at the same time.

Counting during your commute is a great game that preschool-aged children can enjoy. This activity helps identification of objects, colors, and letters while teaching counting and one-to-one correspondence at the same time. Children learn these concepts through repetition.

You can start with something simple, such as “Let’s count all of the red cars we see. There’s one! That’s one. And there’s another!¬†That’s two! Do you see any red cars?” Depending on where your travels take you, you can count all sorts of things. Signs, bridges, trees…

As your child begins to learn her letters, try counting a letter. “Let’s see how many ‘D’s we can find!” Look on signs and license plates, and see how many you can count. This activity will help with letter recognition and counting.

You can even advance to basic, common sight words, if you are traveling in an area with lots of signs. See how many “the”s you can find. Or how many “to”s you see. You can get creative with your environment and your child’s skill level and count just about anything!

Presenting your child with a variety of exercises that teach the same concept through repetition is a great way to build your preschooler’s skills and confidence.

Teaching the Concept of Volume

Our class recently did a seemingly magical experiment to teach the concept of volume.

Ms. Taryn presented the students with four containers of water, each container a different size and shape. One container was short and fat, one was tall and thin, one was a pint glass, and one was pinched in the middle, vase-like. The students looked at the containers full of water and predicted which container held the most water, and then the next most…

Volume

They were all in agreement and very confident. Then we brought out the measuring cup. Each student had the opportunity to pour a container of water into the measuring cup. What were the results?

Container one had exactly one cup of water in it.

Container two had exactly one cup of water in it.

Container three had exactly one cup of water in it.

Container four had exactly one cup of water in it.

Wait. What? How could that be?

We talked about how even though the containers were different sizes and shapes, they all held the same volume! The students were shocked and amazed, much like a magic show. They learned by seeing for themselves the importance of measuring, how things may not always be as they seem, and the concept of volume.

What Doesn’t Belong? Learning Classification

Children learn to classify objects by understanding the attributes of objects, being able to identify them, and knowing the vocabulary to vocalize their thoughts. “What Doesn’t Belong?” is a fun, simple game to help build the concept of classification. It involves learning about similarities and differences, vocabulary development, observation, and abstract thinking.

In order to play, name three items for your child, two alike and one different. For example, you might say “t-shirt, skirt, bike” or “apple, banana, broccoli.” Ask your child which “doesn’t belong.” It’s important to ask the child “why” he chose a particular object so he can practice verbalizing his reasons.

“What Doesn’t Belong?” can be played at home using actual objects and observation, or can be done anywhere without tangible objects, requiring the child to picture the items in her head.

To take it to the next level, name¬†critical attributes of an object and have your child name the object. You might say big, small, yummy, stinky, slow, squishy, and so on. To make it easier, use just one critical attribute, such as “big.” Your child can name anything big. To make it more complicated, name two or three attributes of a particular object and see if she can guess what you’re thinking of. “Name something big and gray.” Your child might say “elephant.”

These games are great to play in the car or while waiting for your food at a restaurant.