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!
Summer is BUSY and so are PATTERNS! Challenge your child to create patterns based on color, size, shape, and category out of toys, kitchen utensils, treats, and more. Increase difficulty for older kids.
Here is an example of a color pattern I gave my son:
He had to continue the color pattern (not sizes).
This excercise reinforced his knowledge of colors and challenged him to follow the rule of pattern!
Here is a list of ideas to help you come up with your own patterns:
- Spoons and forks
- Puzzle pieces
Having a good attitude is essential in being successful with math! Start now and use these strategies to raise your child to not HATE math but LIKE it!
1. Apply It; Use It– A topic is never interesting if it doesn’t have a purpose. For example, use cooking to demonstrate fractions, money for decimals, the grocery store for unit rate, toys for counting, real-life shapes for geometry, and more. Make sure YOU are doing math so your child can see how practical and helpful it is.
2. Encourage trial and error- Growth in math relies on failing. Failure is GOOD in math if you learn from it! My students learn more when they fail and are interested in fixing what they did wrong than those who just want to be right and move on. Give your child a challenge, let them try FIRST, then give them tools to try AGAIN, and lastly walk through the correct way to solve the problem.
For example, I was working with my son on identifying his numbers. He saw the picture of 9 and couldn’t tell me the number. I told him to try it. He said, “Well, it’s green.” I told him that’s true and to try to remember the number again. He said “Six?”. I replied, “I see why you think that looks like 6 but that’s not it”. We started counting and I stopped at 8. He continued to 9 and said that’s it.
3. It’s not about you- Let me say it again, it is not about you! Make sure you’re not setting an example of a BAD attitude!!!! It doesn’t matter if you hate math or were not good at it. STOP talking badly about math!
4. Related to something interesting- I had a student a few years ago who was a fanatic about a certain TV show. He knew every fact about the characters and episodes. I would translate test questions about fractions and decimals and use the characters from the show. His brain took off like a wildfire and the problem seemed less foreign to him.
5. Get physical- Model or demonstrate a math problem as much as possible. Visuals and hands on practice are vital to exploring, understanding, and retaining math concepts.
Legos are wonderful toys that can be used for more than building. They can be used for counting, color ratios, AND as an introduction to fractions.
Before we start we need to understand that what we call a “whole” can vary. For example, if you offer someone a whole candy bar one person might think of a King Size and someone else might think of a Fun Size. With Legos, we can count each color as a whole or a single unit (1, 2, 3…). We can also change the unit we are counting by (1/3, 2/3, 3/3).
Here is a basic example of using Legos to talk about fractions.
This example illustrates equivalent fractions.
Here is one more to get you thinking about making fractions out of toys!
Just before my son’s 2nd Birthday we were at the park. He pointed to these canopies and said, “Look! Pyramids.” I was a proud math mama!
Start now and have your child learn and say the CORRECT names of 2D and 3D shapes. Call them by what they actually are. Kids can pick up on them just as easily. Here are the most common shapes you’ll see with your kids and their toys.
These shapes can be found in your child’s toys, books, at the park, at a restaurant, and more. Take the opportunity to teach them to your child the correct vocabulary.
Here is my son building his 3D shapes!
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”.
Can your grade school student read an analog clock? I have middle school students who have strong “clock skills” and use them in other situations for problem solving.
Students who know how to read a clock can do the following skills in their head when solving fraction, multiplication, ratio, and proportion problems.
Using a clock to solve multiples of 5:
Understanding fourths on a clock:
Understanding thirds on a clock:
Take the TIME to teach your kids how to read a clock!
Subtraction is repeatedly taking some away. Subtraction leads to division, which is repeatedly subtracting the same number. Therefore! Start teaching your toddler the idea of taking something away. Food and treats work great!
Here my son is about to eat his treats. First we count how many he has: 12 gummies. Then I let him eat 2 gummies. We talk about how they are gone and they aren’t coming back! We count the gummies again. I have him eat two more, count what’s left, and repeat until he has eaten all of them.
Use these vocabulary words and phrases to describe subtracting:
- Take away
For older children, ask them the following questions:
- What did we take away or eat over and over? (2 gummies)
- How many did we start with? (12 gummies)
- How many times did you eat 2 gummies? (6 times)
Get creative and use fruit, candy, cereal, marshmallows, cookies, and more!