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The Whole Child, Issue #069 More Math Tips and Missing Activities
March 10, 2010


The Whole Child e-zine brings you free preschool activities each week to maximize your child's potential, build skills and parent-child relationships in just a few minutes per day. Useful tips, quotes, resources, opportunities and articles will be added for extra value!

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March 2010, Issue #069

1. Hello from Shirley

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More Maths and Missing Activities

By now you have probably noticed that I sent you a newsletter without the usual set of activities at the end. I must apologise – the letter was scheduled to be mailed some time ago and I forgot to add the activities, which is why you are now receiving a second newsletter from me this month.

I am hard at work at adding even more ideas for Math Activities to the site so I thought I'd send you some more tips and links to the new activities along with those missing developmental activities – so you get a bit 'extra' from me this month.

Firstly, here are some of the new Maths activities I have added so far. I hope to add more in due course:

NEW!Printable Ladybug Math Activities
NEW!Printable Shape Recognition Activities
NEW! Paper Plane Math Activity

Now for some more Math Teaching Tips:

Early Number Skills

Counting by heart
Children learn to recite numbers quite early. This is useful as it teaches them about order, but it does NOT mean that they understand what the numbers mean.

Activities – counting songs and rhymes

One-to-one correspondence
First children need to understand that one object goes with another object when you are pairing - cups and saucers, knives and forks etc. Then, they need to learn that one number goes with one object when counting.

Activities – laying the table, sharing candy, counting any toys or household objects

Reading numbers
You can help even very young children to learn to recognize numbers by pointing out those around you.

Activities – choose a number and see how many times you find it in a day
Make a number poster or book.
Do dot-to-dot activities.

Writing numbers
You can help with forming numbers by writing numbers for your child to trace or use the Free Printable Number Worksheets on my website.

Conservation of number
Children need to understand that 4 objects are 4 objects no matter how they arranged. This is an important stage of understanding the meaning of numbers. Making patterns with the same amount of objects can help your child to recognize small amounts instantly.

Understanding that objects can be put into sets is important for counting and for later maths skills.

Activities – play games where your child has to spot the odd one out eg. Categories of food, toys, vehicles, buildings etc. You could create a scrapbook with magazine cuttings to reinforce this concept by creating a page for each category.

Children need to understand that you can measure objects and distances in two ways: direct comparison by comparing objects side by side, such as standing back-to-back to see who is the tallest or comparing ribbons side-by-side to see which is longer.

Sometimes this method is not possible. For example, you can't take a carpet from a shop to see if it will fit a room in your house, so then you need to measure it. This is why we have standard units of measurement like feet, inches, centimetres and metres.

Young children can use anything as a unit of measure. For instance they could:

Use blocks – to measure height or length
Use footsteps – to measure longer distances or objects
Use playing cards or sheets of paper – to measure area
Try the Paper Plane Math Activity

You can also measure curves using these units. Use a piece of string to measure the curved object and then measure the string with blocks, for instance.

Estimating is a very important skill, for measuring and for Math in general. In every day life we estimate all the time. Talk about this with your child: “Is this enough milk for your cereal?” “How much paper do we need to wrap this present?”

If a child can estimate answers to calculations he or she is less likely to make glaring errors.

Stages of Addition

1. Counting objects - 2 ladybugs plus 3 more ladybugs is 1,2,3,4,5 ladybugs.

2. Counting on - 2 ladybugs plus 3 more ladybugs is 2...3,4,5 ladybugs.

3. Counting on from the highest number - 2 ladybugs plus 3 more ladybugs is ...3,4,5 ladybugs.

4. Counting on fingers - If your child does this, she knows that the answer will be the same whether you count fingers or ladybugs!

5. Knowing number facts - She knows that 2+4 is always 6, so she doesn't need to count objects to check. These number facts are also known as number bonds.

Activities to help with counting on
Ladybug Math Activities
make a number line
board games
counting objects

Activities to help with number bonds
playing games with two dice
number bond snap


Difference - “I've got 2 buttons, she's got 5 so she's got 3 more than me!” Difference can be found by counting on.

Activity - play 'grab the biggest pile' of raisins, buttons, pebbles, candy, then lay out two lines to see who won. Count to find the difference.

Taking away - “I had 8 biscuits and I've eaten 2 so how many are left?” This is a more difficult concept.

Activity - Make some ladybugs and hide some under a flowerpot: there were 6 and now there are 3 so how many are hiding?

The most important things we can do to help our children are:

  • Watch and listen to find out how much they already know and what they need to learn next.

  • Let them try things out.
  • Praise them. It is very important that you congratulate your children when they have done something well. Also try not to criticize when they make a mistake. We all learn from mistakes so help your child see errors as a positive thing too. Praise your children for their effort not just their successes.
  • Let them see you working with numbers and measuring. Children like to copy. (Crafts and baking are great ways to do this at home together.)
  • Provide pens, paper, rulers, scissors and materials to count and measure.
  • Helping them with math does not have to cost much. You can do it without expensive and fancy computer or electronic skills. Trust me – your children WILL learn to use a pc without effort in due course! At this early age, your time spent with them is more important.
  • YOU are your child's first teacher and the person who can give him or her the most love and attention.

  • Readiness Activities

    The following activities are aimed at ages 3-5. For older or younger children, adapt the activity to their ability or alternatively repeat the activities previously suggested.

    Click here for Backissues of The Whole Child publication.

    To download the activities in a printable pdf, click here.

    You will need to have Adobe Reader installed. It’s a free download. Repeat these activities often - with your own variations too!

    1. Gross motor skills

    Let your child pretend that he is a windmill and swing his arms in a circle without bending them, one after the other. Encourage him to swing them in such a way that they cross the midline of his body. Tell him the wind is blowing softly or hard and let him speed up or slow down his motions accordingly.

    1. Fine motor skills

    Colouring: Let your child cover an entire piece of paper or blackboard with overlapping circles that she has drawn. Then let her colour the overlapping sections in different colours. Use the paper for cards or decoration.

    3. Visual skills

    Play games while looking at pictures where your child must point out different geometric shapes, such as circles, squares and triangles. Use the free printable pictures provided for Preschool Shape Activities

    4. Auditory skills

    Visit the website “Classics for Kids” and let your child listen to The Golliwog's Cakewalk by Debussy.
    A 'golliwog' is a type of rag doll, and the 'cakewalk' is a dance that was popular in the music halls of the 1890’s. Let your child dance or move to the different tempos of the piece of music. She could dance with a doll or teddy bear too, just for fun.

    5. Mathematical skills

    Refer to the article above.

    6. Language and thinking skills

    Use the free printable pictures provided for Preschool Shape Activities and talk about all the objects shown in the pictures.

    7. Faith-building

    Spend sometime lying on your back outside under the stars one night – on a week-end if your child usually goes to bed early – and marvel at the countless number of them, made by our Creator.

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    Greetings until next month

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