When I think of STEM fundamentals, counting and number recognition tops the list! Think about all the times you use numbers during the day. I can think of plenty – telling time, date, year, counting money, when cooking to measure ingredients or turn on my oven, while driving (i.e. speed limits), etc.
With two young kids, we’ve tried to find some creative ways and tools for our kids to recognize numbers and learn some basic math. Here’s a small sampling that you might be able to incorporate into your home:
Counting to 10 daily with our fingers: When my older child was a baby, I had her in a local “babynastics” class. During that class, the instructor had everyone count to 10 with their fingers. I thought this was important for fine motor development, listening skill development as well as number and counting basics so I adopted this at home. Every morning, my older child and I make it a habit to count to 10 with our fingers in front of my 1 year old. My older child loves this because she is able to do this easily and she is “teaching” her sister and it literally takes 10 seconds to do it!
Food Math: This has been especially fun with leftover Halloween candy like M&M’s and skittles. We count the number in each color from the bag, we count the total number, we use the colors to do simple addition and subtraction. It’s a lot of fun! I also let my kids select and count the food at the grocery store (for example, putting apples into the bag).
Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame: Someone in our family gifted this to my daughter for her birthday. Not only was it fun for her, it caused her to do some critical thinking, problem solving and learn to recognize numbers all the way up to 102!
Reading the Calendar: We found a princess calendar at the beginning of the year in the discount bins at Target. It hangs in my daughters room and part of our bedtime routine is to talk about the date on the calendar for the next day. I know that this concept is used in many preschool classes as well.
Drawing and writing the numbers: There are tons of dry erase books and pads out there to practice with but this Kid O 0-9 Learn Your Numbers Magnatab has been one of my favorites. Children use a magnetic pen and draw over the board which brings up the metal pegs to create the numbers.
Reading the clock: During the day, my children like to know when to expect various things – like snack or nap or TV time or time to leave for school, etc. We have a traditional wall clock hanging in several areas of our home. My older child isn’t old enough to understand multiplication yet but she is able to recognize which is the small hand and which is the big hand. So I tell her, for example, when the big hand is at “3”, we will have our snack. When my child gets a little older, I plan to use an idea I found on Pinterest from “SmartSchoolHouse“.
Watching Sesame Street: My children love Sesame Street. We actually watch the reruns on the Roku PBS App often. They have so many counting related clips in each episode.
This is just a small sampling of things we have found helpful. What types of things do you do or what tools do you use at your house to help with number recognition or to improve math skills with your child? Let me know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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