Use common kitchen items such as muffin tins to help your preschool child practice counting.

Mathematics Activities for Preschoolers

by Rebecca Bagwell

Math might not have been your favorite subject growing up. Face it: Most adults cringe at the memory of laboring through impossibly hard algebra homework. Thankfully, your preschool child is at an age where math and discovery make all lessons fun. According to Scholastic.com, “The most powerful math activities for preschoolers are often hidden inside children’s play.” Play with your child in your family’s kitchen using everyday items for some fun preschool math activities.

1. Bean Counters

Use an empty egg carton or muffin tin as a cool way to practice counting to 12. Cut out 12 small pieces of papers and write a number on each. Place one in each of the 12 cups so your little one can add the correct number of dry beans in each cup. For some children still learning their numbers, place the paper numbers in order. If your child is fairly confident in counting, mix the papers up to challenge him. Gather your pennies and play store with the full muffin tin. Give him seven pennies so he can find the group of seven beans to give back to you. Use various objects to play this game over and over until your child counts confidently.

2. Pasta Patterns

The ability to recognize patterns is a crucial skill that is easy to practice in the kitchen with your preschooler. Use pasta shapes to start a pattern chain for your child to continue. Dry pasta works well because little fingers can grasp and move the shapes easily. Make a pattern using elbow macaroni, bow tie and rotini twists along the length of your table. Ask your preschooler to continue the pattern as long as he stays interested. When he finishes, gather all the pasta and start again with a more difficult pattern. Use food coloring to color the pasta before making patterns and see what kind of art work you can make together.

3. Silverware Sorting

For a fun and loud mess, dump out your whole silverware drawer and let your preschool child help you put it all back together. Sorting the different types of silverware encourages your preschooler to notice shapes and sizes. Match all of the same type of silverware together and let your child determine which slot it should go back into. Remove any sharp objects from the drawer first that could harm your child. Open the kitchen utensil drawer, as well, and organize the spatulas, wooden spoons and other utensils you use almost daily. Bring out the pots and have fun pretending to cook with your newly organized cookware. Also, enjoy the opportunity to clean out those drawers you keep meaning to get to.

4. Measuring Rice

Most preschool children are captivated by scales and measuring, and the kitchen is perfect for playing with all those teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. Dump a large bag of rice into a big container. Describe the different amounts you can measure in the kitchen. Play with the rice while finding out how many tablespoons it takes to fill up the cup. Use a kitchen scale to measure different amounts of rice. Estimate which container holds the most and least amount of rice. Rinse the rice well and show your child how you need twice as much water than rice to cook it properly. Finally, pat yourself on the back for having already started dinner for the evening while playing math games in the kitchen.

About the Author

Rebecca Bagwell is an educator with a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Trinity Baptist College. She has taught in China and the United States. While overseas she started writing articles in 2006 for bilingual trade journals. Now, she lives in the South where she homeschools and writes freelance articles encouraging creative approaches to education.

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