Early childhood is ripe with learning opportunities. And young children are full of curiosity. There are early math concepts are practically spilling over every day. The concepts such as counting, comparing, sorting, classification, one to one correspondence, simple addition and subtraction occur frequently. So combining a child’s genuine curiousness with all of those math opportunities is a natural way and fun way to incorporate everyday math into your routine.
Counting: Young children love to learn about counting. The most obvious thing to count is their age in years. The nursery rhyme “This Little Piggy Went to Market” leads to counting toes and fingers. When I took my children grocery shopping I would have them count the eggs in the carton to make sure there were 12 eggs. They would help me count out the number of canned veggies I needed. On the beach they can count pebbles or the number of boats they see in the water. Once children grasp counting they will count everything and anything!!
Comparing: Nature allows for many chances to compare, especially in the summertime. Take a walk on the beach and compare the size of the stones you find, sort them by size. How many really big boats do you see? Are there any sailboats out there? Take a walk in the woods. Look at the birds, some are small and some are larger. You can compare the size of almost everything, from shoes to flowers to cars.
Sorting: Almost everything can be sorted. Sorting activities can include things like: sorting the family shoes by size from smallest to largest or vica versa, sorting nuts and bolts in the workshop, sorting out the kinds of cereals in chex mix, helping sort the laundry, sorting out the legos or toys as they are put away . . . the possibilities for sorting are endless.
One to one correspondence: Setting the table is a great way to learn about this concept. How many people are in your family? So how many plates will you need? How many cups? How many forks? What a fun way to set up a picnic table.
There are many possibilities about early math that present themselves every day. Once you start thinking about them you will find yourself counting and sorting in your sleep! And your child will be learning some good early math ideas.