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Math activities to do at Home for Preschoolers

A well-known Chinese proverb tells teachers and parents the value of a practical approach to math.

“I hear and I forget,

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.”

Here are some practical ‘I do’ activities you can use in your home to teach the beginnings of math to your pre-schooler.  Think in terms of these basic concepts and math skills. 

Try counting, sorting, matching, pattern making, shapes and measuring for six basic math activities with multiple ways to explore these skills right there in your home!

  1. Counting is one of the best at-home learning activities for preschoolers.  We are surrounded with counting material, starting with our own fingers and toes.  Counting rhymes are a big help in this area too.   Children learn to count by rote at first.  They just repeat the numbers.  The next phase is the ability to associate a number with a group of objects.  Board games and counting the number of dots on a dice add value to the counting experience.  Some children will soon notice the pattern on the dice and then they are off to a good start for learning how to count on from one number to the next.  Count table settings, people and slices of cake, steps to the bathroom and sharing treats too.
  2. Sorting is a very important pre-math activity.  It helps with grouping objects together and categorising or organising. Pictures, blocks and items of clothing from the laundry basket all make good sorting objects.  Children can learn to sort by size, shape and colour.
  3. Matching objects helps with the concept of the same and different.  Making comparisons is a math skill.  Preschoolers need to be able to learn how to match as part of the skills they need for learning letters and numbers. Matching is a valuable cognitive skill.  Start with the idea of finding things the same and then increase the skill with finding and grouping different objects by shape size, or colour.  Helping children with this skill of matching at an early age will boost your child’s ability to recognise letters and numbers later on.
  4. Pattern-making is a very important math skill.  At home, you can see patterns around the dining room table or in the clothes you wear.  Talk about colour patterns and how they repeat.  Use blocks to make a row of a pattern.  You start the pattern in the blocks and your toddle recognises what comes next.  If your toddler is past the mouthing stage, bead threading is a great way to encourage pattern-making. The early stages of understanding patterns lead to being able to skip count and learn times tables because they are number patterns.
  5. Shapes are all around us and children love to learn their shapes through pictures, blocks and everyday objects.   Cut out the basic shapes from colour card as your child is learning them.  Use your matching skills to match the shapes to objects around the house.  Go on a shape hunt with the shapes you have made.  Walk around your house, the backyard, the neighbourhood, or a nearby park and look for these shapes.  When you find the same shape, match them and say this is a circle or whatever shape it is you have identified.  Shape posting boxes are a great way to learn about the 3D properties of shapes, as your child has to slot the shapes into the box.
  6. Measuring will draw you to the kitchen and here you will find many different ways to learn about measuring.  Let your pre-schooler join in measuring spoons for a cake bake or cups of an ingredient.  There is a wealth of measuring activities here, but supervising young children in the kitchen is essential.  Bath time is another opportunity to experience pouring and measuring.  Have cups and jugs and pouring utensils available for your little one.  Measuring does not have to be in metric measures because you can have fun using your hand as a measuring tool or take steps to measure and count the distances.  The more practical the exercise, the better the absorption of the principle.

Introducing incidental math activities at home leads to a better understanding of the concepts required later on at the formal school level.  Introducing any skill through games is always a win-win situation.