We are overdue for some math chat, and if there is one thing I ALWAYS harp on it’s that math concepts begin through hands-on learning. Reading has a whole lot more listening activities: playing with words through rhythm and rhyme or listening for sounds in a word, but math uses tangible objects so children can wrap their hands, and their minds, around the concepts.
So, let’s learn another math activity that uses objects around the house.
Materials: You can use unifix cubes or blocks, but whatever you use, the rule is they need to be the same size. And an extension of this activity will use dice (with dots or numbers).
Spread the blocks all over your learning space, and make up a story about why Barbie (g.i. joe or whoever) wants to go to the top floor of the mall (or building or fort). “Can we build her a staircase to get there?” Take one block and show your little one “Okay here is the first step, and if I want the next step to be a little taller then I will need one more than this, so I will need two blocks” (build two blocks and place them next to the first step). Okay, the next step needs to be even taller than the second step so I need one more than 2. What number comes after 2?” (3) “Great! So let’s attach 3 together to make the 3rd step.” Build 5-10 steps. Then take it apart after a bit of playing and let your little one help you make it again. Finally, see if your little one can make the steps on his/her own.
A lot of skills are being taught here. Your child is visually seeing how numbers grow so he/she is learning what numbers represent. You are exposing your little one to language like “more” and “taller,” ordinal numbers like “second” and “third,” and you are teaching about numbers that come “before” and “after.”
Play this game again tomorrow except this time use a dice (dotted or numbered), and each time you roll the dice build a step that tall. Try to help your little one put the stairs in order each time you build a new step by asking questions like “Is this one bigger or smaller (taller or shorter)? If you roll the same number, figure out if you already have a step that tall and explain to your little one that you already have a stair that size and you need one that is taller or shorter to make the steps “grow” taller.