Play: Kindergarten, Here We Come!
Today we are starting a Kindergarten readiness series for all you moms and dads out there whose kids will be starting school this year. We are kicking off the series with a re-publication of a math post we did last year. In it, we give some super simple math activities that you can do with the things you have around your house.
This is a great
way to do math while also being active. We created a huge number line
by cutting up some cardboard boxes and taping them together with packing
tape. Then, we wrote numbers spaced far enough that the kids could
easily take a small step from one number to the next.
is a great one for helping the kids learn the positional nature of
numbers (i.e. a linear understanding- one comes before three, ten comes
after seven). We first introduced this as a tool to help Asante learn to
do simple addition in his head. He could easily do an addition problem
like 2 chocolate chips plus 1 chocolate chips equals 3 chocolate chips
when he had the chocolate chips in front of him. But it was harder for
him to add when he didn’t have objects to look at. By playing on the
number line and him doing problems on it, I think it helped him to
develop the idea of a number line in his head.
when doing an addition problem, 7 + 3, we would have Asante start at 7,
facing towards the higher numbers, and then walk forward three numbers.
What he would be standing on would be the answer.
subtracting, 7 – 3, Asante would stand on the 7, and then face towards
the negative numbers because it was subtracting, then step three spaces.
He’d end up being on the number 4, which was his answer.
lots and lots of adding and subtracting, Asante became interested in
the idea of negative numbers. When on the number line, if he were going
to do a problem like 3 + -1, he knew he needed to stand on the three to
start off with, and because it was an addition problem, he’d stand
facing towards the larger numbers. BUT, since it was (-1) he would step
backwards one space, getting him to his answer, 2. After a few times of
doing the problems this way, he began to kinda get the difference
between adding a negative number versus subtracting a number.
Aly (3), we just practice counting by ones as she walks the line (helps
to put a numeral to the word). For both Asante and Aly, we also
practice “skip counting” (counting by 2s or 3s or 5s) on it.
great thing about this kind of number line is that it folds up when not
in use and we can just hide it under our couch for storage!
this one, all you need are some pennies painted one side black and one
side red, a dry erase board and a dry erase marker. When using coins (or
other items), we’re helping our kids learn about the idea of
object-based numbers, meaning numbers can represent a certain number of
things. There are lots of simple ways to do some math fun with these
items. Here are a few that we did, but I’m sure you can think of lots
Set out three coins (black side up). Ask your child to count the coins
and write the number underneath. Set out five coins and have them write
that number underneath.
have them add them up and write the answer. So easy! But a skill that
takes practice in order for them to “get it” in an intuitive way.
These coins offer a way to talk about negative numbers as well. The red
represents a negative number and the black represents a positive one.
When one red and one black come together, they explode (or erase each
other or whatever metaphor you like) and they become “zero”. We use this
concept when adding positive and negative numbers.
|-5 + 3|
|Asante is pairing off the red and black and pushing them to the side.|
|Two red coins are left after the pairing, so the answer is -2|
|We asked Aly if she knew how to write any numbers, and she said, “yes!” It was zero.|
asked her how many coins she should put down to represent that number.
She said, “haha, none!” I then asked Asante if he could come up with
another way to represent zero. He thought about it for awhile, and then
said, “Yeah, if I put one red and one black together.” I asked if there
were any other ways.
|-4 + 4|
last one is the easiest and most laidback and a good beginner math
problem. When the kids were eating a carrot snack, Jake asked them if
they could line up their carrots from smallest to largest.
|Aly working on it|
then explained to Aly which carrot was the median (middle), and then he
asked Asante which one was the median in his set. Then they got to eat
them- yum! Eventually, Jake wants to add more carrots and use snack time
to introduce other ideas, like mode, and then maybe use carrots to
because our kids are preschoolers, we try and find fun ways to show them
how math intercepts their daily life as well as making more formal math
lessons fun and interesting. If the kids start whining or getting
frustrated, we normally just say, “hey, I see you’re getting frustrated.
do you want to do something else?” While we won’t let them off this
easily later on in elementary school, we feel like it’s so important for
the kids not to dread math or develop constant feelings of frustration
around math learning. They are having fun while laying a foundational
understanding of numbers that will serve them well as they are
introduced to more formal math concepts later in school.