Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Teaching Math Skills through PLAY!!

Play is a powerful tool you can use to teach many skills to preschoolers.  They will discover and cope with their world as they play, and if you play with them you can take advantage of countless teaching opportunities.  Here's a few ways to teach young children math and counting skills through dramatic play:

1.  Store.  Both boys and girls love to set up toys and food to create an imaginary store, buy their goods, and even play the cashier.  In fact, I usually have to moderate turn-taking so we don't have any fights over who gets to be the cashier at any given moment!  You can use real money, a "bank card" (an expired gift card), real "fake" money, gold pirate coins, or a fistful of invisible money.  When you play with them, make sure they count out the coins, or count up to the cost of each item.  As children develop a stronger grasp of numbers, try over-paying them and asking for change.  You will have to help them figure it out the first time or two, but they will catch on very quickly!

2.  Restaurant (or picnic!).  Take turns being the customer and the waiter/waitress.  When you order, ask for things like half a cake, 3/4 a sandwich, or ten strawberries.  If you don't have plastic food (and you aren't having a picnic!), you can easily make paper food (cut out your weekly grocery ad) or just use blocks for food items.  Your kids won't mind a bit!  Remember to emphasize halves and quarters whenever you cut a sandwich, cake, or similar food in real life.  At lunch time, you can ask your child if he wants 1/4 (hold it up), 2/4 (hold them up), 3/4, or 4/4...a whole, every time you cut a sandwich.

3.   Superheroes.  Astronauts. Or any other make-believe game.  Include counting activities whenever you play with your children.  Is your little superhero taking off to save the day?  Take off on the count of 3!  Next time, take off on the count of 5.  When their space ship or boat or train is ready to depart, count down to blast off (from ten, of course!).  

Dramatic Play is wonderful because you are strengthening creative thinking, social, verbal, math, and many more skills all at the same time.  You can also use more structured games for math reinforcement also:

4.  Hide-n-Seek.  Consistently count one or two numbers higher than your child can count by's great practice!

5.  Board Games.  Research is showing that children who engage in board games twice a week for at least 15 minutes each time may perform measurably better in written math skills than their peers.

6.  Mother May I?  Another version of this is Mr. Wolf, What Time is it?  The wolf is "it" and you or other children ask, "Mr. Wolf, what time is it?"  The wolf replies, "3 o'clock" and everyone takes three steps toward him.  The game is repeated until the wolf replies, "Dinner time!" and chases down his dinner.

There are so many possibilities and ways to involve math in your play time.  Do you have any favorites?

I may share at any of these parties!


CacheyMama said...

These are excellent ways to help preschoolers with math skills. I love it! Thanks for linking up to Thinky Linky Thursday!
Lori @ Cachey Mama’s Classroom

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, Lori!

Alice Emma Thompson said...

Love this post! Alice x