Preschool math made fun

February 14, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Whether it’s counting forks for the dinner table or measuring the length of the kitchen counter with Matchbox cars, there are plenty of opportunities to make learning math concepts fun for your preschool child.

Learning beginning math concepts such as sorting, patterning, ordering, counting and number recognition can help your child navigate the world of numbers. And, developing basic skills can instill an interest in and provide building blocks for future math learning.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics suggest numbers, geometry and spatial relations, measurement, patterns/geometry and analyzing data are important preschool math concepts.

Where to get started helping your young child learn? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.


Whether you’re in the house, walking through the neighborhood or traveling around town, look for ways to encourage number recognition. Search for numbers on cereal boxes, mailboxes and speed limit signs. Help your child learn to count spaces on a game board, dots on dice or socks in a laundry pile. Nursery rhymes and counting books are also helpful learning tools for preschoolers.

Geometry and spatial relations

Children can learn different shapes around the home – a round (circle) mirror, a rectangle-shaped book, a square cake pan. Make up your own shape bingo game, or use shape cookie cutters with play dough to help your child learn to identify shapes. Share spatial relation concepts by creating an obstacle course, using words such as “over,” “under,” “across” and “through” while giving directions on how to complete the course.


Children can compare the height of a stack of blocks to a toy box, or figure out how many steps it takes to travel the length of a room. Making recipes together is also a fun way to explore measurement. Reinforce measurement concepts by asking questions and making observations, such as “I wonder how many spoonfuls of flour it will take to fill this cup measure?”


Help your child learn about patterns by making a pasta necklace with different pasta shapes and a piece of string or yarn. Come up with a pattern together and let your child copy the pattern repeatedly. In addition to learning math, your child is working on the fine motor skills required to pick up pieces of pasta and thread them onto a piece of string.

Analyzing data

Simple graphs are a fun learning tool for children. Children can sort objects by color, shape and size, count them and record the data on a chart. Try a simple chart such as having your child ask family members what kind of fruit they like best, such as apple, orange or banana. They’ll learn concepts like “more” or “less,” i.e., “more people in our family like apples than oranges.” Have your child call grandparents or other family members/friends to add data to their graph.


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