Posted on July 06 2021
With a little imagination and creativity, crafting activities for preschoolers is a great way to teach them key Math concepts.
If you think about it, Math is pretty much everywhere around us and with a little imagination, teaching your little preschooler Math concepts is easily achievable with everyday household items. Sometimes you might need a hand so you invest in ready-made activity kits that come in handy when the going gets tough and time is not on your side. Developing Math skills occur way before your little tikes enter formal school and at an early age, they’ve already begun sorting and organising, all part of Math. They build and design the minute they get their hands on blocks. These are all mathematical skills that kids have a natural interest in and are developed through the natural act of playing.
There are basically five disciplines when it comes to teaching Math, preschoolers included. These are number sense, algebra, geometry, measurement and data analysis. You might be thinking, “Even for preschoolers?” What does that exactly look like? Sarah, a stay-home education and mum of five, spells it out in layman’s terms. She says that for preschoolers, counting, number identification, addition and subtraction are all part of number sense. Patterns, comparing and sorting equates to algebra, shape identification as well as shape differentiation are part of geometry, comparing sizes, lengths and weights are all about measurement, and finally graphing plus simple estimation, data analysis. Sounds intense, but in actual fact, all Math activities you come across for little ones target these disciplines and most importantly, they are fun!
Number Sense Activities – Addition & Subtraction
Number recognition is the first step towards being proficient in Math concepts and using manipulatives including homemade play dough is an effective teaching tool.
Hands-on Counting Activities
For the more kinaesthetic learners, utilising homemade play dough together with counting cards introduces pre-kindy kids to numbers and the concept of quantity. You can easily make a non-toxic play dough and laminated number cards at home, but if you’re pressed for time, you can easily purchase them off the shelf. Play From Home SG’s range of numeracy activities serve to help preschoolers identify numbers, introduce them to number bonds, as well as simple addition.
Play Board Games that Involve Counting
We love board games and they are a great way to get kids off any tech gadgets. Simple ones like Galt Tell the Time Set and Snakes and Ladders help preschoolers recognize numbers on a dice and count moves. Younger kids will also love Melissa & Doug Magnetic Number Maze where they learn all about counting, addition and subtraction. Fill each basket with the correct number of red "apples" by sliding the attached magnetic wand over the acrylic cover. Then move the apples to different areas of the maze game to add, subtract, and make child's play out of math! How about Zingo? This is literally Bingo for kids!
Algebra Activities – Comparing & Sorting
Using plastic containers and filling them with different items is also a good way to teach your little ones the concept of sorting as well as comparing shapes and sizes.
Egg Carton Colour Sorting Activity
This is one of the easiest and best activities to start off your tots on their colour sorting journey. No need for fancy sorting sets, simply recycle your egg cartons and invest in teeny coloured fabric pom poms from Daiso or any craft store. Up the creativity factor by collecting a few cartons and painting them according to the colours of the pom poms. You can use tongs, pincers or even wooden clothes pegs depending on the level of fine motor challenge you wish to incorporate into this activity.
Alligator Greater or Less Than Comparison Game
The concept of this game is simple – roll a dice, jot down the number, roll again, and compare whether the numbers are greater, less or equal to each other! You can use small blocks or any other items that your child loves so that they can physically count the quantities and then compare one with the other. Use a small whiteboard or a laminated cardboard and draw out two rectangles, one on each side. Here comes the fun part – create your alligator mouth with two small pieces of cardboard, colouring them 2/3 in green and 1/3 in white. Then use a scissors to make the jagged edge along the white portion for the alligator’s teeth. For younger kids, you might want to secure the alligator to the whiteboard or cardboard and enable it to swivel around. If you’re pressed for time, download a ready-made printable here!
Geometry Activities – Shapes
Even in the kitchen, you can create a fun activity to teach your kids all about shapes and measurement when prepping ingredients for a meal.
Shape Hunt Playground Activity
How about a hands-on geometry lesson when you’re at the playground? You can print a list of shapes for your little ones to hunt for at your nearby playground. With a bit of groundwork, you can also recce and take photos of circles, squares, rectangles etc. from different angles within the play structures. Print these photos out and create a “how many shapes can you find in this photo?” activity. Compile photos into a book and you can whip them out whenever you want to revisit this topic again with your little one.
Paper 3D Shapes
We all know about origami and paper folding crafts, but making paper 3D shapes needs a little bit more skill and constantly reminding your enthusiastic preschoolers not to squish the paper! There are loads of printable templates online so that makes things a whole lot easier. Shapes that you can create with your tots include Cube, Cuboid (rectangular), Cone, Square-Based Pyramid, Triangular Prism (tent shaped), and Octahedron (diamond-like shape).
Measurements Activities – Sizes, Lengths & Weights
Get creative with your kids and create an artsy non-standard unit of measurement using their hands!
Explore with a Kitchen Scale
Using a kitchen scale is a great way to introduce weight and measurements to your curious preschooler. At the supermarket, you can get them to weigh items like vegetables and fruits on the weighing scale provided. Once you’re home, keep the kids busy as you put away the groceries by turning the whole process into a teachable moment! Place a kitchen scale (digital or analog) on the floor and have them take items out of your grocery bags, place them on the scale, and read the numbers out loud. Start a conversation about which items are the heaviest and which are the lightest. Would bigger, bulky items mean they are heavier? And vice versa? From groceries, you can move on to getting your tots to weigh other items like their favourite toys and books.
Measure with Kind Hands
Instead of measuring length using the old-fashioned method with a measuring tape, make it more fun and meaningful with this kind hands activity inspired by Rainy Day Mum. Start off by drawing around your child’s hand or if you want to, paint on their hand and print on white paper before cutting them out. Try to get a whole pile of cut-out paper hands and explain the activity – measuring how tall we are with the use of these paper hands. Ask your child to lie down and then say that you’ll be placing the paper hands on the floor to measure how many hands tall he/she is. Siblings will start to get competitive at this point, but that’s when the fun begins too! After this measuring activity, have your kids write out one kind act on each of the paper hands and task them to carry these acts out within a stipulated time. Examples of kind acts include helping Mummy with the dishes or sharing books among siblings.
Data Analysis – Graphs & Estimation
Once you’ve introduced estimation jars, your little preschooler can estimate the amount of money he has saved up in his piggy bank!
Introduce Estimation Jars
It’s time to introduce your little preschooler to the concept of “ish”. “Sweetheart, Mummy will be home about 8ish.” You may or may not use this term, but it a fantastic way to teach your child about approximation and estimation. So when you say “8ish”, you mean after 8pm and before 9pm, around there, not exactly at 8pm on the dot. This is estimation. Then comes the estimation jars! What are these? Basically fill clear jars with different types of objects (or can even be liquid!) and you can have your kids make educated guesses on how many objects or how much volume of liquid is inside. You can also create a Math puzzle by stating clues about the number of items in the jar so that you teach your kids that estimation isn’t just a random guessing act. More estimate activities found here.
Fruit Loop Bar Graphs
Why fruit loops? Because they are edible (might be an incentive for some little ones) and so colourful! Place a small bowl of fruit loops on the table. Use a foam block or long blob of play dough and stick wooden skewers into them in a row. Time to sort and thread! Some kids may start to organise their fruit loops into colours even before threading them onto the sticks. Extend the activity a little and print a fruit loop bar graph for kids to colour in the number of fruit loops they have per colour in their bowl. At the end of the activity, ask which fruit loop colour has the most number or least number. You can even introduce terms like “more than” or “less than” to prep them once they start formal school.
Learning Math concepts shouldn’t be a tedious or dreaded task and whatever activities you choose to do with your child, always bring in authentic experiences! When you’re at a restaurant or supermarket, have them count the amount spent. If you’re baking, pique their interest and get them involved by weighing and measuring items. There are a whole load of opportunities for kids, even preschoolers, to participate in real-world activities that involve numbers. It’s time to show them that we are surrounded by Math every day!