Everyday math play in preschool

As adults, we can tend to over-think how to go about teaching math to young children but promoting mathematical thinking and basic math concepts can come through all kinds of simple hands-on activities. Here are some of the most common kinds of math activities I integrate into my classroom…


Cooking

Cooking presents a wide range of opportunities to promote mathematical thinking including measuring, weighing, counting, and estimating. Cooking also provides ample opportunity to use mathematical terms through casual conversation. “We are going to need two eggs.” or  “The recipe tells us we need to measure out one cup of milk!”


Cooking is an inviting, fun, hands-on approach to building math skills. The greater role children can take in the cooking process, the more they will be able to put into practice basic mathematical thinking and skills…

Patterning

Patterns are all around us and it doesn’t take long for young children to begin to recognize patterns in their everyday world. We use classroom manipulatives like the chains you see below to build our patterning skills as well as other everyday materials like mittens, crayons, blocks, cars, and paper…


We often extend the books we read into patterning opportunities too. For example, after reading the book titled,“Little Blue and Little Yellow” by Leo Lionni, we created felt board patterns with a little yellow and a little blue (and then we added a little red too!)….

We also make action patterns by doing actions such as clapping a rhythm or lining up in an AB pattern (stand-sit, boy-girl)….


Exploring Shapes

Building our ability to recognize and form geometrical shapes and designs is another part of our everyday math experiences…


There are shapes everywhere in our real world. Learning to recognize and identify simple shapes that are in our world then having the opportunity to manipulate those shapes helps us to understand the structure and design of our world…

Opportunities to work with shapes can be found in all areas of our classroom…


As the children play with the materials in our classroom they are able to explore how shapes fit together to create buildings, cars, houses, and other items that have meaning to them…


Counting

We work together in large groups to count objects.


And we work individually to count objects…


Each week, we work together to share, organize, sort, and count our math tokens we bring from home…


Math Games

Getting our whole bodies into the math process helps us to reinforce basic math skills as well. We toss the large die to tell us how many steps, hops, or squares we can go…


We create games indoors and outdoors that invite mathematical thinking and large motor movement…


Estimating

My class has gotten quite good at estimating. The more often the children take a guess at “how many” items are in a pile, jar, or basket then actually follow up with counting the items – they begin to get a feel for the estimating process. The estimated numbers gradually become more closely aligned with the actual numbers…


We use the tokens we collect all throughout the school year in our math bags to create estimation jars. The children enjoy exploring the wide variety of materials we collect and they love it when I set out math materials and they can say, “Those lids/candies/cars or whatever they are came from my house!”


Comparing and Contrasting

It doesn’t take expensive materials to build strong math skills. We can use items like our shoes to compare sizes, color, purpose, make, and type of shoes…


Sorting

We sort just about everything in our classroom. We sort by color, texture, size, and category. Part of building strong math skills is developing the ability to sort and organize materials so they can be easily counted, categorized, divided, and added. Sorting promotes children’s ability to organize the items in their world so they make sense and are manageable.


The children also make their own sorting games as they explore the materials in our classroom…

We often find opportunities for math through the books we read. We had great fun sorting M&M’s after reading the M&M counting book…

And one of the best ways children develop their sorting skills is during clean-up time. After playing with all our materials, there always comes that wonderful math skill building time of putting everything away  which is a huge lesson in sorting by itself…

These are just a few ways we integrate math into our classroom. The opportunity to explore math is all around us!

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Linky Up!

If you have a math activity or post to share, I would love for you to link up today. I am always on the look out for fun ideas for promoting math in my classroom…


 

Linky Rules

  • Feel free to add up to 3 links from your blog to the linky below
  • Add a link to at least one post that links back to this post or include the Everyday Math Button in your post.
  • Share only links to math ideas please!
Thanks for joining me today – I can’t wait to see your ideas!
By | February 26th, 2012|Categories: Mathematics, Powered by Play|Tags: , , , , |9 Comments

Mixing up bright and colorful M&M paint in preschool

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After exploring our M&M book and counting activity, we saved our M&Ms for this next super, super, and I mean super fun color sorting and painting activity…

The children started by sorting all the M&M colors into clear plastic cups…

Because the children worked together as a group, the color sorting went fast. There were lots of M&M’s to sort out…

Once the colors were all sorted, we stopped for a minute to compare which color of M&Ms we had the most of then rearranged the cups from the most full to the least full. We discovered we had lots more blue then we had of any other color. We had to divide our blue M&Ms into two cups…

Then each child chose a color of M&Ms to help prepare our M&M paint…

To make the M&M paint, we added water to the cups of M&Ms.  Only add just enough water to slightly cover the top of the M&Ms

The children then stirred each cup of M&Ms with a paint brush until the water in each cup turned the bright color of the M&Ms. The color continues to brighten or thicken up in the water after a few minutes of stirring…

Then the children began to paint with the colors.  The only rule today was that when the children traded cups of paint colors, the paint brush needed to go with the cup so the colors would stay bright and pretty for our paintings…

The children loved the idea of painting with M&M paint and made beautiful paintings with the M&M paint.  After awhile, we could see that the color of the M&Ms had now changed from being different colors to being all white.  The chocolate candies did not get mushy in the water – it felt like you were running your paint brush through a cup of small pebbles. It was a wonderful experience in color and texture and science and art…

The paint is similar to water color painting, so the water absorbed into the paper very quickly and the painted paper dried very quickly…

The children painted and painted, then asked for more paper and painted some more…

The children took their time with the paint and began by creating beautiful rainbow-like designs with all the colors.  After the children had painted for awhile, Ms. Abby sat down to paint with them (it was just too irresistible to only watch) the children decided that they wanted to make a painting like Ms. Abby’s…

I think this was the first time the children in our class painted scenes rather than just designs and as the children continued to paint, the paint continued to hold its beautiful color and the M&M’s in the cups began to turn from the color white to the color brown…

I wondered if the M&Ms would get mushy, but they never did. The children continued to paint with the colorful water paint and we did not have a problem with the chocolate getting on our brushes. I thought that was quite surprising…

Perhaps since the room was cool or because the water was cool the chocolate didn’t melt as we painted. I even let the M&Ms sit in the water for almost an hour after school was over and the chocolates never melted or got too mushy for painting. If you wanted to mash the chocolates up you would have to reach in and use your hands to pinch or squeeze them…

I can’t express to you what a wonderful activity this was overall. From the counting and sorting we did earlier in the day all the way through to the M&M sorting and painting activity, the children stayed engaged and were loving the process…

Let’s talk about clean up

The M&M paint wiped off easily and cleanly from my table after the children went home for the day. No staining and no heavy scrubbing was necessary.  The paint brushes rinsed out easily and I noticed they were only slightly sticky to the touch from the M&M paint. After almost an hour of use, I was surprised that everything wasn’t sticky – but it wasn’t. The children’s hands were also not sticky from the paint but even if they had gotten sticky, the paint was easy to rinse off of hands too. AND the paper was not sticky to the touch…

To clean the cups, I strained the left-over M&M paint while pouring it down the sink then threw the chocolate candies in the trash.  I didn’t want to fill my sink with the candies. Then I rinsed out the cups with water but then decided just to throw them away. These particular cups tend to crack easily after so much use…

I chose to use clear cups so the children could see through them to look at both the color of the paint as well as the changing color of the candies.  I think the only thing I would change in this entire process is to use taller clear cups so the brushes don’t tip out quite so easily…

I hope you will give this a try and if you do, remember to only add just enough water to slightly cover the amount of M&Ms you have in the cup.  This way the water will be more concentrated with the brilliant colors of the M&Ms…

I can easily say that my class would give this activity a rating of a 10! I know this because as they were leaving I heard, “Mommy, we made M&M paint today!”

I am linking up with The Play Academy and No Time for Flashcards: Link & Learn today!

By | January 20th, 2012|Categories: DIY|Tags: , , , , |37 Comments

Exploring M&M counting and sorting in preschool

I just love the beautiful bright colors of M&Ms and today, we explored M&Ms through several different types of activities. We started off all our activities by reading (or exploring) the book, “The M&M’s Brand Chocolate Candies Counting Book” by Barbara Barbieri McGrath…

Which is available here…

We didn’t read the entire book since the math concepts start to get a little over our level of readiness, but just the first several pages of the book made our little M&M counting process super fun…

Each of the children were given M&M’s for counting as we read along with the counting book…

Each page of the book invited the children to select a specific color and number of M&Ms to count out and arrange on their board.  We are using our mini-home made DIY flannel boards for this process…

The book also has the children make a few different designs on their boards like going from corner to corner…

Some of the designs were a bit too complicated for the children so we didn’t continue with the book. But the book proved to be a terrific way to kick off color sorting and counting and designing with the M&M’s…

After we set aside the book, the children continued to create their own designs…

And just you wait and see what we did next! It was amazing, fun, super cool – I can’t wait to share it with you!!!  Stay tuned while I go now to write up my next amazing M&M post!

 Links to Grow On…

Check out this M&M Snowflakes from Toddler Approved!

By | January 19th, 2012|Categories: Flannel Board, Mathematics|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Preschool pizza box games

Pizza boxes are such a wonderful resource for the classroom.  I am constantly cutting one up to see what kind of game or activity I can make with it…

I don’t always have a specific plan for each box. I like to make them all different then set out different types of tokens, like the tokens we gather on math day,  or other items like cardboard rectangles. The first box I am sharing with you today is a cardboard slot box…

To go with the slot box, I cut up card board rectangles then painted one side of each rectangle just to add some color. The children put the cardboard pieces in the little slots on the box…

For this next box, I cut little doors and hot glued lids on the front for “door knobs”.  I set out lids that match the lids on the box for the children to sort. This is one of their favorite boxes…

Some children just put the lids in any door they like – others take the time to find the matching door…

I also made a game box using Velcro and foam blocks. These are the same blocks I used to make ink stamps with earlier this year.  For this game, the children can make patterns with the blocks or simply arrange the blocks on the pizza box and then drop some of the blocks inside the holes.  This is also a favorite game the children enjoy…

Next time, I will just use velcro and possibly include one hole. What the children liked most was putting the blocks on the velcro.  Oh, and I hot glued the Velcro on both the box and the foam blocks so the the Velcro would stick on better and last longer…

And this last game box I am going to share with you today is a weaving game box.  I cut slits in the box and set out ribbon for the children to weave through the slits…

I will definitely be making more weaving boxes.  I got in a little hurry with this one so my lines are all crooked and I made the spaces to wide too.  I would also like to make a square slotted weaving box…

My students liked tying the ribbons into knots around the weaving box too. Perhaps this should be called the weaving and knot tying box…

Before cutting into any of the boxes, I covered them with colorful contact paper I bought from Staples Office Supply.  I store the supplies for each box in a baggy and tuck the baggies inside the boxes when they are not in use. They all stack up nicely when I need to put them away.  These boxes will be brought out periodically for the children to explore.  We will use them to build fine motor skills and math skills such as patterning, sorting, and matching. I will share more boxes at a later time but this should give you the idea and perhaps will inspire you to come up with some of your own!

Any thoughts on this you care to share?  Leave me a comment below!

Linking this post to…

The Home Teacher: Not a Box Linky!

 

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Our take home math bags in preschool

I found these bags at our local Dollar Tree. They were 2 for $1.oo each and I knew that they would be perfect for our take home math bags…

A math bag was sent home with each child.  We added each child’s name on their bag as well. The children take home their bags each Thursday and bring them back by the following Thursday…

Instructions were sent home to the parents as well. They are to help their child collect no more than five items each week to put in the bag. The items should be small and something that the children (or parents) will not mind donating to our school. For example: acorns, plastic lids, coke tabs, rocks, buttons, and so on….

On math day, the children will share what they brought to school (sort of like show and tell) and then they will all sort the items into baskets. All the acorns will go in one basket and so on.  We will graph the number of items each child brought, count the items, and use them for making patterns and games…

Each child can choose five different items to bring or they can be all the same. The reason for bringing five or less items is because when we combine all the items from the entire class together – it makes for a lot of graphing, sorting, and counting…

The parents get to be involved just a bit too which is always a plus for opening conversations about preschool at home! This is our first week for bringing our math bags to school so I will be sure to share more as we go along.

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By | September 14th, 2011|Categories: Mathematics|Tags: , , , , |18 Comments

Outdoor nature hike collecting and sorting in preschool

Since day one, our students have been wanting to go on a nature hike in the woods.  So what did we do? We went on a nature hike (on a slightly rainy day no less)…

Each child was given a paper bag to collect nature items. The popular collections included rocks, acorns, and sticks. We had a few leaves but since our leaves are not quite falling yet – we will take another walk on a fall day for collecting leaves…

The children have been collecting acorns on a daily basis around here and taking them home in their pockets, but today we put them in our bags…

After we completed our collections, we went into the outdoor classroom and set our bags out by our sorting baskets…

Later, the children sorted all the items that were in their bags into the baskets. Keep in mind that we have been collecting items to take home often so leaving the items they found in the baskets was no big deal to the children…

That was all we had the time for today but throughout the year, we will continue to add to our collections and use them for various kinds of learning and play in the classroom…

By | September 13th, 2011|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , , |10 Comments

Exploring shapes on the table in preschool

Last week, Hands on: as we grow shared an adorable idea for making shape puzzles on the floor. I thought we would use this idea too but we changed it up just a little and put it on a table instead…

Each shape was made by placing tape on the table and then we set out foam shaped blocks that I got from the Target Dollar Spot…

When the children arrived at preschool, they found the foam blocks and shapes waiting for them on the table and it was up to the children to decide how they wanted to use these items…

Some of the children chose to put their blocks on the lines of the shapes…

Some of the children chose to put the blocks inside the shapes…

Most of the children chose to use blocks that matched the color of their tape-shape or they chose to use one single color to work with…

While the children played, I would invite them to tell me what the name of the shape was. Part of the objective was to reinforce the recognition of some basic shapes but this activity is also great for spacial awareness, patterning, sorting, and matching…

We will be doing more with activities such as this on the table – this was simple to prepare and allowed for independent math-play and exploration.

By the way – I purchased this tape from our local United Arts and Education!

By | September 4th, 2011|Categories: Around the Classroom|Tags: , , , , , |17 Comments

Counting and sorting bugs in preschool

In the activity box this week, the children found these bright and colorful bugs and bug cards.

The bug cards came from PreKinders – you can go to Prekinders to download your own set if you would like a set…

Some of our students enjoyed sorting the bugs by color…

And others just preferred to play with the bugs…

Notice how everyone at this table is just exploring the bugs….

And all the children at this table were in a big race to sort out all the colors….

Super simple and fun idea for the classroom!

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By | May 14th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Teach Preschool in the news: Save those easter eggs!

This morning, I had a special guest join me for my three minute segment on local Indiana Fox 59 Morning News…

Tristan and his parents joined me at the news studio bright and early this morning to present my newest segment – see video below.  Everyone pitched in to help me get ready…

First I have to set out all the props I will need on this large rolling bar…

Some of the paint spilled out of my eggs on the car ride over, so Tristan’s dad and I wiped them all down and tried to salvage the left over paint…

Once we had everything up and running, Tristan and I did a practice run at “cracking open the eggs”.

Then we had to put on our microphones…

And take our places inside the news studio…

Hello??  – we’re over here on the opposite side of the studio…

And in just a few minutes, Angela came and joined us so we could begin…

Tristan was such a big hit that I don’t think anyone heard a word I had to say! LOL!

I have already asked Tristan and his mom and dad to join me again some time…

 

After we were done, we had to take the microphones back off…

And that was our day! So much fun!  Our three minute segment is below…

For more information on each of the activities I talked about today, just click on the links below…

Water Play and Color Mixing with plastic eggs

Crack Open the Egg and Paint

Egg in the Nest Sorting Game

Make Your Own Colorful Easter Grass

By | April 21st, 2011|Categories: Media|Tags: , , , , , , , |6 Comments

Egg in the nest sorting game

Yesterday I made my own Easter grass and I am using part of the colorful shredded grass to make a sorting game for the kids…

I started by gluing a handful of colorful shredded grass to paper plates. This gives a little bit of a bird nest look but with lots of spring colors…

I will set out the colorful “bird nests” along with a basket of plastic eggs that are the same color for the children to use as a sorting game…

I am thinking that I may even get some smaller paper plates and invite the children to make their own colorful bird nests…

The remaining shredded grass will be used for sensory play along with more plastic eggs and other items for sensory play. The children can mix up all the colors as they wish in the sensory table…

Don’t you just love all the spring colors?

Books on Amazon

Links to Grow On

“There’s a Bird on Your Head” from Mommy and Me Bookclub

“Baby Birds” from Preschool Playbook

A Bird Themed Snack from Almost Unschoolers

Lots of Birds and a Tree from The Chocolate Muffin Tree

Paper Tube Binoculars from Almost Unschoolers

Angry Birds and Cardboard Tube Chicks from Crafts by Amanda

By | April 7th, 2011|Categories: Activity Boxes|Tags: , , , , , , , |10 Comments