Teaching Math to Preschoolers

By Jenny Esposito

Posted: December, 2012

When teaching math to preschoolers you need to move beyond counting.  Other preschool math concepts include number recognition, sorting and sets, shapes, comparisons, time, money, patterns, measurements, addition and subtraction, and more.

There are many different ways to teach these concepts but, when you plan math activities, you will want to offer the following in your lesson plans:

Concrete – Give the children real materials that they can manipulate and work with.  Preschoolers need to see and touch objects in order to verbalize and visualize their thoughts.  These materials can be anything that can represent a number; balls, toys, food items, or anything that can be counted.

Visual – Preschoolers need to be exposed to illustrations or pictures that represent the number.  This can be a picture of anything that represents a number and the amount in correspondence with the number.

Symbol – This is the actual number that you are teaching.

Math Concepts

One-to-One Correspondence – Preschoolers can begin to count with meaning by pairing objects or matching them one-to-one.  For instance, one book for each child, one cup for each child, etc.

Counting – This includes the ability to recite numbers and involves the understanding of the meaning of numbers.

Number Meaning and Recognition – Each number represents an amount or quantity.

Patterns – This is the ability to reproduce an arrangement of objects.

Sorting and Sets/Grouping – Classifying objects into sets or groups according to an attribute or characteristic like color, size, shape, etc.

Shapes – the ability to recognize similarities and differences in shapes and to name the shapes.

Comparisons – determining if objects and sets are alike or different through comparisons.

Measurements – Preschoolers need to experience weight, volume and linear measurements.

Time – the ability to recognize the meaning of the hands on the clock.

Money – the ability to recognize the act of purchasing and simple identification of money.

Addition and Subtraction – simple operations in addition like joining sets and subtraction like separating sets.

Math Vocabulary

It is vital for children’s understanding to use vocabulary in connection with the children’s experiences.  The words below can be used frequently as you explain the activities, identify objects, talk to preschoolers, sing songs, tell stories, ask questions, etc.

 Position Size Time Measurement Up Big After Cup Down Little Before Pint Here Fat Today Quart There Thin Yesterday Foot Bottom Tall Tomorrow Yard Top Close Far Right Left Inside Outside Middle First Last Short Long Heavy Light More Less Greater Full Empty All Some Date Clock Calendar Second Minute Hour Day Week Month Year Season Mile Scale Pound Ounce Thermometer Degree Meter Gallon Ruler Inch

Activities That Can Be Used to Teach Children Math

You should choose activities that are appropriate to the ability and to the interest of your preschooler.  Start out simply and then move on to more complex tasks and concepts so that children can experience success.  For instance, teach children to count to 5, then to 10, 15, and so on.  Focus on learning one shape at a time instead of overwhelming children with many shapes at once.  Plus, feel free to repeat activities to build confidence and because, as always, repetition is key!

For a huge array of different math activities go here.

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