When we think of math we think of 2+2=4. But math is so much more than that. It’s important for young children to learn the basic concepts of math and numbers before they can understand math problems. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to teach these basic concepts. Here are some ideas of easy games you can make at home for your child to practice those math skills.
Feely Box- Make a box with different textures. You can put three to five different textures in a box. Infants and Toddlers like touching and feeling things. As they take each texture out you can count them and then tell them about the texture. Tell them if it’s soft, rough, or bumpy etc. This activity is something they will enjoy playing with.
Matching Games- When making matching games for young children you want to have two items that are the same; two yellow cats, two brown dogs, two rattles. Matching items is a pretty basic concept that a one year old can start learning. With the younger children you should stick with three sets of matches. As the child grows and understands matching the games can begin to get more and more challenging; such as more sets of matches or more ‘like’ items like two cats that are not the same color. You can make matching games from just about thing as long as you have two of the same item. You can use old socks, colored pieces of paper, different size toys (big and little, for older kids), toy animals, and shapes.
Sorting Games- Sometimes matching games and sorting games are thought to be the same thing. Sorting games are when you have 3 or more items in each category. Sorting games are easy to make at home as well. You can sort colors, shapes, sizes, and animals. When teaching your child how to play this game put all the items in a pile then set one of each category out in front of them. For example if you are using colors put all the colors in a pile. Then put one blue object, one red object, and one yellow object out. Pick up an item from the pile, let’s say it’s blue. Put the blue item next to the yellow and ask does it match or “same, same?” then tell them “no it’s different”. Put it next to the red item and ask again and answer. Then when you put it next to the blue ask the same question and answer “yes it matches”. Then place the blue in the blue pile. Encourage the child to try.
Puzzles- Children love puzzles. Have the child take the handle puzzle pieces out and figure out how to put them in the right spot. Some older infants and toddlers enjoy playing with handle puzzles. As children get older they can handle harder and harder puzzles.
Counting numbers- These activities are for older 2 year olds and older children. You can put pom-poms in the holes of an ice cube tray and then have the child take them out and count how many is in each hole. To start out, put five or less items in each section. For older children you can put numbers in the bottom of a cupcake tin and have the child put that many items in that spot.
It’s important when playing these games with your child to talk to the child about what they are doing. Helping them understand when things match, how things feel, or how to count each item. Encourage them to look at it again and see if they can fix it themselves if they don’t get it on their first try. These are skills they are learning just like they learned how to sit, it takes time, patience and lots of practice. The more they practice the easier it will become.