Once a day we do a pre-maths activity with our little ones to help them feel part of things and to keep them busy while the older ones work on maths. When the older ones finish then they can also do one of these fun activities. We have a great dining room table (its an eight seater rectangle, so it works well to have us all sit around the big table to do our activities, each child has their own contained space and the little ones feel part of things at the big desk too.
Of course, we don’t call it pre-maths. They are way too young for real school or anything but the name just helps me to categorise activities in my mind and do some each day.
Pre-maths activities our 2 and 5 year olds love to do.
1. Playing with beans in jars. They love to pour, sort, count out, feel, toss and PICK UP – not! these beans. I bought the largest beans I could find – much easier to clean up afterwards!
2. Marbles and a marble tower – our 5 year old loves rolling marbles into box with numbers over little garage-type gaps to get the score. The littlies love to play with the marbles and see them run down the marble tower. You can easily make one using toilet roll tubes and tissue boxes!
3. Playing with uncooked pasta – all you need are a couple of different containers to put the pasta in – and a plastic paddle pool works really well indoors to contain the mess. Sometimes we also fill a clear plastic bottle with pasta or large beans and get all the children to guess how many pieces it contains – the closest one wins a little something.
4. Popcorn and cups for pouring, counting, etc. as in no 1 and 3
5. Money tins – playing with the money, putting through the slot (or through slots in the top of egg boxes) sorting coins into a container with different compartments or stacking them into piles
6. Some great sonlight maths manipulatives like pattern blocks – making piles, sorting, making pictures, etc.
7. Pouring – put out a variety of cups, jugs and a big bowl of water and an empty one and let them pour away! Have fun counting how many cups it takes to fill the smaller bowl from the larger one using different cups.
8. We love to all pile into the car and go for a “counting drive”. We count things like cats, dogs, horses, cows, kudu, wildebeest (we live near a small game reserve) and also things like yellow cars, blue trucks, etc. We listen to counting songs, count while we wash hands, measure flour for the bread dough, whenever we can.
9. Magnetic fridge numbers – these are big colourful numbers that stick on our fridge. The little ones love sticking them on, taking them off, sorting them into piles, sticking them onto a baking tray, and putting them all back again.
10. And as a rare treat, because I don’t want the children sitting in front of the computer (we don’t have a TV) – they watch the Mathtacular DVD and love it! Its fabulous – created by the Sonlight Holtzman brothers – 1.5 hours of counting elephants, shapes songs, marble adventures, lots of fun and they learn so quickly! So much better than children’s movies.
Coming next in the Homeschool Series: Homeschool Maths for Early Preparatory School
“Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29 v 13