Early Childhood Math Activities To Get Kids Started


Children use early childhood math activities in their daily routines. This is a good habit as learning math promotes short-term memory, increases cognitive skills and improves attention. This prepares kids to be ready for school. Studies have shown that a child’s math acuity upon entering kindergarten is a strong indicator of future academic performance.

However, early math education does not mean pulling out the calculator and worksheets which may stifle your child’s interest in the subject. Most kids will learn basic mathematical addition and subtraction through everyday engagements. Johnny has three lollipops, he gives one to Timmy and one to Jane. He now sees that he has only one lollipop.

You can also use daily routines to teach your child to count, for example how many houses are on your street or how many cups and plates have you set out for breakfast.

Engage your child in the following fun math activities and help your child learn early math skills by building on their natural curiosity and have fun together.

Fun With Shapes

Put together items of varying shapes. Talk with your child about each shape, count the sides, describe the different colors. Have your child help you make your own shapes by cutting shapes out of colored paper. Learning about shapes will help his later understanding of Geometry.

Identify shapes around the home, such as rectangles in cell phones, triangular shaped sandwiches/pizza slices, and circles in plates. Ask your child to explain the defining features of her play table. It has 4 corners and 4 sides.

Develop Spatial Awareness

When reading a storybook, discuss the placement of pictures in the book. Where’s the bird? Is it flying up above the trees? Reference size by asking, which is bigger, the elephant or the monkey?

Gather and Count

Gather together your child’s small toys and then count them together. Sort them by type of toys, example cars in one pile, action figures in another and separate by size and color.

Count everyday objects, like the spoons on the table, the apples in the fruit bowl, buttons on your child’s shirt. Start with five items and then gradually increase the number.

Play Board Games

Board games like Math Dice jnr and Chutes and Ladders help kids recognize numbers on a dice and requires them to count the number of moves available to them. As your child gets better at board games, introduce more complex games that require two dice.

Home Sweet Home

Teach your three year old child the home phone number and address. Explain to your child that all houses have numbers and show her the different house numbers on the street.

Put A Clock On It

Perform short activities with your child and use a timer to keep time. Activities should be between 1-5 minutes. Children will develop an understanding of time and realize that some activities take longer than others.

Observe The World

Compare the size of objects. That building is bigger than the other. That truck is bigger than that car. Ask your child to relate his size to other people

Your Own Little Sous-Chef

Make cooking time a fun learning activity for your child. Your child can help you measure, stir and pour the ingredients. Use measuring cups and measuring spoons. Introduce your kids to whole numbers and fractions. Your child will learn height, weight, size and quantities. Your child can learn to add, measure and estimate while having fun and bonding with you.

Guess The Weight

Pull two different items from the kitchen cupboard, like a can of beans and a packet of chips, and ask your child which of the two is heavier. He will learn to understand the concept of weight.

Use A Calendar

Every day, talk to your child about the date and point it out on a calendar. I prefer using a good old-fashioned wall calendar with large font. Your child will develop an understanding of counting, sequences and patterns.

One-to-One Correspondence

The concept of One-to-One Correspondence is that each object in a group can be counted once and only once. It is useful in the early stages for children to touch each item being counted and to move it out of the way as it is counted.

Have your child distribute snacks at the picnic table. One for mom and one for dad and one for Timmy and one for me.

Laundry Lessons

While performing household chores like your laundry, ask your child to separate socks and pants. Ask her to count how many pants she has collected. Ask her to match and pair the socks. Which of the clothing piles are larger?

Math And Art

I enjoy teaching my kids math and counting during simple art projects. It combines an activity that all kids enjoy, drawing or painting and with them unwittingly learning as well. How many legs does the spider have? How many eyes does the kitty have? Count how many birds are in the sky?

Path To Future Success

A psychology study published in Development Psychology in 2007 stated that early math skills have the greatest predictive power for later mathematical success. The more math orientated activities kids participate in prior to going to school, the better they understand math when they are in school. Early math skills are also an indicator of better performance in high school and a higher rate of college enrollment. So, why don’t you get your kids started on some of these activities and they will be having so much fun and not even realize that they are learning math as well.

4 thoughts on “Early Childhood Math Activities To Get Kids Started”

  • I have to say that I really like this article, my daughter is three years old, myself and her mom have been teaching her how to count by using shapes, gathering, and counting just as you are outlining in your article. I definitely would like to try some of the other methods as well, particularly, playing board games. Thank you so much, what a great article!

    • Hi Jean, thank you for taking the time to read my article. Please try some of the other activities in my article and tell me how it goes with your little one.

  • Leslie, thank you so much for your advice on early childhood math activities. I wish I’d known all this when I was a young Mum! I’m a grandma now, so shall have great delight in implementing some of your advice with my little grandbabies. It is such great advice to engage them in regular activities that can assist them in learning math when they don’t realize it.

    • Hi Jenni, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you found the article useful. Have fun teaching math to the grandkids.

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