Preschool math activities can feel overwhelming, especially when you are trying to figure out what part of your day to place them. Believe me, I’ve tweaked our schedule so much in the past 16 years! I tried math trays during centers time, large group math activities during circle time, and even math activities during small groups time. Eventually I came to a perfect solution, which I will share later in this post.
What is the best approach for offering preschool math activities?
Let me just get it out there that I did not like math as a child. Now, that was a long time ago, and thankfully teaching has come a long ways. But forcing a child to sit and do worksheets and flashcards can be boring. In fact, some children will quickly decide they don’t want to have anything to do with it.
I am a strong believer in allowing young children to use their five senses during learning activities, math included. They could be sitting and staring at numbers on a sheet of paper, or on an index card, OR they could be exploring numbers while sorting, measuring, counting, reading, singing and cooking. They could be counting the pieces that are involved in an art project, or while putting together shape puzzles with friends, or using the play cash register in the dramatics area. Math can be done at school or at home, indoors and out, while on a walk around the neighborhood, even while in the grocery store.
When is the best time to offer preschool math activities?
If you were to walk into my preschool classroom, you’d notice learning taking place all over the classroom, and not just at one part of our day. I mentioned above that I’ve tried math trays during centers time, large group math activities during circle time, and math games during small groups.
Math does not have to be limited to a specific part of your day.
What I learned is that math can be done during all three of those times, and other times as well. And so, this is how we engage our preschoolers into the world of math. Lots of hands-on activities that can be done independently, in large groups, and more intimately in small groups.
Preschool math activities can be done any time of the day, throughout the day.
So, let me share some fun ways that we have engaged our preschoolers:
These are the obvious sorting activities, but there are so many others that just seem to happen naturally throughout our morning. Putting things away in proper bins, sorting what goes into the trash and what goes back into the bag at snack time, sorting the colored markers when putting them away.
Sorting Toys in Our Classroom
One of my favorite ways to add some simple counting is during art projects. How many legs? How many eyes? How many circles? I often add a number line so they can place the items on the line while they count. (This is great 1:1 correspondence, too.)
We count all morning long, in so many ways, during large groups, small groups, and independently.
More ideas for young children:
Looking for more math play ideas? Head on over to Teach Preschool’s Everyday Math in Preschool.