Math Mania: Early Childhood Math

Math can be such a fun learning experience for young children.  I wanted to share some ideas, lessons, and tips for teaching math to young children.  Most of the activities shared in “Math Mania” will be for children aged 3-8.  These will be hands-on learning experiences.  For our first math post, I wanted to share some common household items that can change your child’s math experience.  I have called these “math collections.”  Teaching does not have to be expensive and most homeschool families have a limited budget.  I like to use plastic butter or whipped topping tubs for storage.  I take a picture of what is inside and print the picture with the words on a 2″ sticky label.  I will give ideas with each item listed over the forthcoming “math” posts.  Here are some things you can begin to “collect” for an exciting year in math:

  • beads (all kinds)
  • shells
  • nuts, rocks, stones, seeds, pine cones, seed pods
  • macaroni (various shapes)
  • golf tees
  • dry beans (different varieties)
  • buttons
  • nuts,bolts, washers (different sizes)
  • milk jug lids, other small lids, bottle caps
  • marbles
  • shaped erasers (small decorative)
  • foam shapes ($ stores have these in large quantities and various shapes)
  • spools
  • small tiles (1″ and 2″ are great)
  • plastic animals/people/cars
  • paper clips
  • plastic tags from bread
  • old keys
  • coins
  • small refrigerator magnets (shapes, numbers, letters)
  • egg cartons
  • toothpicks
  • clothes pins
  • old measuring cups/spoons
  • old or cheap hula hoops (we will be using these later for Venn diagrams)
  • old magazines and catalogs
  • grocery store sale papers
  • craft sticks
  • small portion cups (medicine cups, cupcake liners, dixie cups, dip cups, etc)
  • small boxes or containers for storing items
  • adhesive printable labels
  • containers for sorting (aluminum pans, styrofoam trays from carry outs or meat, paper plates, etc.)
  • dice
  • checkers, poker chips, counting disks
  • dominos
  • rulers, yard sticks, measuring tapes
  • thermometers (can you hang one outside near or on a window?)
  • timers (kitchen timers, egg timers, etc.)
  • scales (kitchen scales, balance scale, bathroom scale, etc.)
  • solid color vinyl tablecloths for floor graphs
  • old wall clock (one that doesn’t work will be great.  Your child can “set the time” and won’t have to worry about breaking anything.)
  • geoboards: See directions on how to make a geoboard, at home!

geoboardThis is a geoboard.  Geoboards can be used in math for teaching basic shapes and for early geometry lessons.  There is no need to buy a geoboard.  You can easily make one at home that is much sturdier than the plastic ones you buy.

To make a geoboard you need a 12″ square of wood.  1 1/2 inch- 2 inches thick is preferable.  You will also need 25 small 1″ screws with small heads.  Measure out and make a mark every two inches, across and down.  If you start your first screw 2 inches from the top and 2 inches from the side, it will be nice and centered. After making the 25 marks, screw the screw into each mark.  You will want about 1/4″-1/2″ sticking out.  Make sure all of the screws are even.  You can be creative and spray paint the wood before attaching screws.

Helpful note: Tack a can soda tab to the back and you have a nice hanger to store your geoboard out of the way.

Our next Math Mania post will be on Calendars!  So many math concepts can be taught just by having a “Calendar time” each day with your child.  Come back to find out more!

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