I’m sure we can all remember reading examples of mathematical problems in texts books at school, “If Jane has 3 apples and Tom has 4, how many apples do Jane and Tom have together?”, sound familiar?
These exercises were designed to have us think of math in the context of real life. This can be a useful skill to have, however with our pre-schoolers it is important that they have something concrete to work with to make sense of these concepts.
One way that we could make early mathematical concepts enjoyable and relevant to children at this time could be to utilise the ‘bear hunt’ game that many people are already enjoying participating in.
On your next walk around the neighbourhood in search of bears in the windows of homes, take with you a pen and paper. Create a tally chart for how many bears you see of a different colour and encourage your child/ren to make a mark in each column.
When you arrive home to take the ‘data’ you have collected and try out some simple counting, addition or subtraction exercises.
For young preschoolers the simple act of counting up the tally and then writing the corresponding number at the bottom helps them to grow in the knowledge that the written number equates to an exact amount.
For older children adding in the challenge of combining two sets of numbers provides extension for their understanding of mathematical concepts.