Data and statistics are about collecting information and analyzing it. Your toddler or preschooler can start learning these critical-thinking skills by categorizing and comparing objects and toys.
Try categorizing by colors, size, and type.
Here is an example of blocks sorted by color. Stack objects together to start modeling graphs, or visuals.
Have your child count each category.
The most important step working with data is the “So What?” This is where kids learn to think and analyze critically.
For a younger child, try asking these questions:
- Which category has the most? The least?
- Why do you think there is more of one than the other?
- Is there a category that doesn’t seem to belong?
- Are we missing any that we didn’t organize?
These questions will later turn into analyzing questions such as:
- What will “typically” happen (measured by mean, median, and mode)?
- What variables or factors would cause one category to be more or least common?
- Is there important data not included?
- Is there an outlier, or an extremely irregular number?
Data and statistical learning doesn’t have to be for older kids. Start exploring and analyzing data early!
By middle school students are expected to know their multiplication facts 1-12 fluently. However, many students can’t memorize all of them. In fact, students who are good problem solvers are often the students who don’t memorize, but rather know them through other methods such as modeling, repeated addition, and working from facts they do know.
A common multiplication fact that many students struggle with is 8 x 7. To get a deeper understanding, start with modeling this with pictures. For example, there are 7 soccer teams with 8 players on each team. Have your child count until they get 56 or a total of 56 players.
Practice with modeling should lead to the idea of repeatedly adding the same number. Multiplication is repeated addition. After modeling over and over, students start to realize they are doing this:
8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 56 OR 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 +7 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 56
I tell me students this is fair game and to add every time if they need to.
Already Known Multiplication Facts
Repeated addition leads to another strategy students can do without having to memorize all facts. Let’s say your child knows their 5 multiplication facts well. They can use this knowledge to count to the others they struggles with. Let’s use 8 x 7 again. If they know 8 x 5 = 40 then they just need two more groups of 8 to get to 8 x 7. Most students get faster at doing this in their heads. I will have students make flashcards like these with that facts they struggle with.
Here is another example:
There are opportunities everywhere to make counting a game and begin teaching important basic math skills. Counting activities lead to modeling on number lines which is a large part of Common Core Math taught in school. The main purpose of a number line is to model counting whether it’s by 5’s or by fractions. Therefore, it’s essential for kids start at an early age.
- Shapes– Shapes are everywhere! It’s easy to count specific shapes with your child when traveling or in a restaurant.
- Candy– For obvious reasons, kids love to count candy. Candy can be used as an incentive to get young kids to start counting. Challenge them not to eat until they have finished a task. This leads to the idea of subtraction! Literally! Eating and taking away candy is the basic idea for subtraction. It’s gone; we no longer count it.
- Balls– Make it a physical game! Challenge your child to throw 5 balls as fast as they can. Count with them as they throw.
- Cups– My son loves stacking cups. Build a pyramid and count as you go. Talk about the pattern made with each level.
- Crayons– Crayons can again be used to count by color. Also, Crayons usually come in large packs and are great to start to count to 20. Try introducing them to counting by 2 or 5 crayons at a time.
- Non-Toys– My son and I spend time all around the house like in the bathroom. I let him play with items like Q-tips and cotton balls. I’ll ask him to count 3 items and put them in a basket.
- Books– Before bed we always read. I’ll choose a number for the night and that’s how many books he gets to pick to read.
- Picking up toys– My son loves to help me clean. I will challenge him to pick up a certain number of toys. Then, I will have him choose a number of toys I should clean up as well. We’ll take turns counting and cleaning!
Make all opportunities COUNT!
As a mom of a busy toddler, I’m always looking for ways to engage him. My son loves to be challenged with scavenger hunts. Of course, I put a math twist on it!
Simply have your child go find math related items in their room. (This could be played at a restaurant or other location of the well.) Here is a list of ideas for kids to find:
- A certain number of objects
- Objects with actual numbers on them
Here are some other ideas to add to your game!
- Offer a reward such as a treat or 10 minutes of cartoons
- Make it a relay game by timing your child or setting up a running obstacle course as they find each object
- Make it a timed race against other kids
- Make it more of “Hide and Seek” with objects
Here is a printable of different 2D and 3D shapes! SHAPES PRINTABLE
Ready? Set? Go!
I recently shared this video of my two-year old son doing a basic addition problem.
A good friend asked if he really knew what he was doing or if he was repeating what I said. I argued that he absolutely knows the concept behind adding because we have modeled it many times. He doesn’t necessarily know what the word “plus” means yet but he understands the idea of putting more together. His understanding of “more” will help with addition problem-solving in the future.
We moved on to modeling two fingers and adding thee more. I ask my son how many we have altogether. He counts and says, “five”.
“More” and “altogether” will later translate to “add” and “equals”.