Common Core Math in the Bath Activities for Preschoolers
By Katie DeGroot
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I was contemplating on a topic for an article series that readers would both enjoy and be able to utilize the information easily. Math has been on my mind due to my children being back in school and it seems that the concepts they are working hardest on is their math lessons. What better way to get myself energized for this school year than to discuss some of the many games, stories and activities I have done with my kids throughout the years to facilitate math understanding at all levels, especially with the new Common Core Math standards.
This mini math series will discuss fun number and math games to play with children from preschool age through all grades in Elementary, which will help their understanding of Common Core Math. Pre¬school is an exciting time; children can excel when their surroundings inspire and cultivate learning growth. Their little minds are eager to learn about everything in the world. By setting some time aside for fun number activities, you can inspire that little brain to set sail.
My background in college was developmental psychology and what I found fascinating was the distinct stages that children go through to advance in their growth, mentally, physically and emotionally. Young children, around three years old, can start recognizing that adding objects to a certain set will result in more or an increase, and removing objects results in fewer. Four and five year-olds experience significant and major changes in cognitive growth that directly affects their math intelligence. They start to problem solve. For example, when you ask your child to put out one, two, three or four items and they finally understand the difference between the actual number of “5” or just “many” when they reach that developmental stage. During this time, the cause¬ and ¬effect relationship cognitively matures.
Other important brain representations for children that aid in mathematical understanding are those of spatial shapes and actual number concepts. By utilizing this knowledge, we can all play a part in improving mathematical learning in small children as we prepare them for Common Core Math standards. Bath time was always a great opportunity for me to try some of my favorite math activities with my kids. I realize some children dislike bath time, but I never had that problem with my children so I used this time to improve their math skills. My issue was getting them out without a fight. So I gave in and let them play for what seemed to be hours.
Math Games for Preschoolers
So how can we help our children become more excited about learning their math facts so they don’t become frustrated in school or have trouble with the new Common Core Math standards? A good way to get a head start is through several types of learning games while they are young to ease the transition when they finally make it into the school system.
Foam Bath Math in the Bath Activity
Since bath time can be one of the best times to help your kids learn, you can try this fun foam math activity to do with your preschooler or even with your older children.
You will only need three or four simple items:
• Several sheets of 6×9 foam craft sheets (many different colors) (Only $9.99 at Amazon for 65 sheets)
• Scissors (craft scissors if possible) ($6.27 at Amazon)
• Jumbo Muffin Tin (for larger shapes) ($6.47 at Amazon)
• Ice Tray (for smaller shapes) ($7.88 at Amazon)
Start by cutting the foam sheets into many different shapes. Personally, I cut out different sizes of shapes so my children can create monsters, build houses and landscapes, rockets, planets, and any other items they enjoy. This way, while playing our math games in the bathtub, they can also build elaborate scenes on the bathtub walls.
Next, have different containers available for sorting. I used a large muffin baking tin, and for the tiny shapes, I used an ice tray. Finally, we started a discussion on sorting and counting all the many shapes and colors. Start giving them giving them directions and ask them questions like “could you find all the blue circles?” or “how many yellow triangles are in this muffin tin?” Sometimes they would line up the foam shapes on the bathtub wall and other times they would want to put it in the container and then dump it out. This entertains kids for hours and they don’t even realize they are learning math concepts. After you have asked them several questions about sorting and counting, let them play or build a fun monster or animal with their shapes. My kids always built a masterpiece on the wall that I never could remove until the next night. Try another fun math in the bath game here.
Guess the Number
Another easy math game you can play at anytime is “Guess the number.” It is such a simple concept, but kids want to do it over and over again. The best part about this activity is it provides kids with logical thinking that directly relates to the Common Core Math standards that are now being taught in schools. Off the top of your head, pick a number (1¬ through 10 or higher according to your child’s number knowledge) and then coach them with questions to help them guess the number. Remember to help them ask questions like “Is the number higher than 5?” “Is it lower than 9?” This helps them visualize the numbers in their head while remembering which numbers have a higher or lower value. Try switching it up and have them pick the number and you guess. When your child is having you guess the number, it makes your child’s mind work through math concepts as they answer your “higher and lower” questions. This game is useful in the car, while making dinner, waiting for appointments, and while traveling. Try these ideas out with your children and see where it takes them.
To end, I must share my favorite math quote by Shakuntala Devi:
“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.”
Have a fun time!
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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