Introducing math to your toddler can seem like an overwhelming task. However, I assure you, with the right tools it can be fun AND easy! In fact, I bet you have already introduced math topics to your child without even realizing it. Have you ever asked your child to decide which pile is bigger? Ever built with blocks before? Any discussion about an object’s size, shape, or quantity is getting your child comfortable with math. Now, add in a few more intentional math activities and your child will be well on their way to being perfectly prepared for kindergarten!
When I start more intentional math activities, I like to use the following tools:
I use these dice for so many activities. They are easy for the kids to handle, which makes them much more likely to engage in the activity. They are also large enough that your child is able to count the dots to determine what number they rolled. This is great counting practice!
You're probably thinking "Really, Kelsey?!" I know, it seems unconventional. BUT...there are SO. SO. SO many activities you can set up for your child using an ice cube tray. Here are just a few examples: I like to use counting bears or pom poms and place them in the cubes. Then I have my child count them as they remove them. This enforces one-to-one counting (the idea that each object only represents one number). You can also put varying numbers of bears in each row and have your child compare the two, which one has more/less, and how many more/less so that the two rows are equal. This is early introduction to addition and subtraction without actually using equations!
Counting bears are so much fun and also SO cute! 🥺 I like to use these as mentioned above in the ice cube tray. They are also great to use for sorting. I have my children sort them and then count how many of each color. Another way we use counting bears is to create patterns. I start a pattern and have my child finish it. Or, if your child is ready, them create their own patterns!
These need almost no introduction, but I will still gladly introduce them ;). I love using 10 frames. Most children are comfortable counting up to 10, or at least working on those numbers. These 10 frames are so helpful for that! I like to first introduce these by placing a certain number of tokens in the frame. I have my child count those tokens, using one-to-one counting and moving or touching each token as they count. Then I have them count the blank squares. Then we talk about how those two numbers together equal 10. You can also compare the two frames and talk about which one has more/less. The options are ENDLESS with these!
These are so fun to use. You can use them for patterns, counting, 10 frames, and even in the ice cube tray. Basically the point of them is to have your child doing HANDS ON math. This allows them to see and manipulate the equations, which helps them correlate the written number to a physical quantity!