Take a walk on the wild side while planning some math activities for your preschooler. Animal buddies make for great learning partners -- they'll help keep her brain active, her body moving and her face smiling. Since your home may feel like a zoo already, you might as well work with what you've got.
1. Sticker Activities
Animal sticker activities are sure to grab your preschooler’s attention. Divide a sheet of paper with several horizontal lines and write the numbers 1 to 10 down the paper. Tell your little one to put the correct amount of stickers next the number that’s written. Another way to use stickers is to draw several circles on a piece of paper. Cut a sheet of animal stickers apart so each sticker is by itself. Tell him to place the same type of animal in each circle. For example, one circle is for monkeys and another is for lions. Grab another piece of paper and cut it in half. Write a “2” on one of the halves and a “4” on the other. Tell him to place animals with two legs, like apes and birds, on the “2” sheet and animals with four legs on the “4” sheet.
2. Plastic Animal Activities
A bucket of plastic animals can provide loads of fun along with learning opportunities. Have your kiddo separate the animals according to species, color, number of legs, whether they have long tails or short tails, or stripes or no stripes. Have her line them up two-by-two or in a single file parade. Maybe even have her position them to make different shapes. For example, the tigers can stand in a square formation, while the elephants stand in a circle pretending to drink out of a watering hole.
3. Animal Art Activities
Art projects can also provide math lessons. Let him make his own animal by giving him a handful of markers and a paper plate. Give him instructions as he goes, such as “Give him three eyes” or “He needs four teeth.” He may end up creating a whole new species of animal with this activity. Color-by-number activities exercise his math skills, too. You can also make a new twist on connect-the-dot pictures by letting him use finger paint to connect the dots instead of a crayon or pencil.
4. Stuffed Animal Activities
Let your preschooler’s stuffed animals get in on the math action, too. Have her line up all of her stuffed animals, starting with the smallest and going toward the biggest -- she'll end up with a zoo conga line. Animal hunting games can turn a boring, rainy afternoon into a math safari adventure. Place several animals around the house and have your preschooler in a secluded area until you’re ready. When it’s time, give her instructions, such as “Go find me three bears.” As she hunts the “countryside,” you might even be able to wash dishes while she’s distracted. If you want to be sneaky when it comes to clean-up time, make it a sorting game. Place a handful of small plastic bins in her room, and tell her to place brown animals in one bin, striped in another and light colors in another. Make it a timed sorting game -- counting out the seconds -- and she’ll really speed through the cleanup.
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