Math is everywhere, and it is important that children make connections with the mathematical concepts they encounter each day. They may see three-dimensional shapes in the playground in your backyard; explore volume and capacity when helping in the kitchen or playing in the bathtub; or exercise problem-solving skills as they put a puzzle together or place shapes in a shape sorter.
Whenever possible, incorporate “math talk,” a term that refers to asking questions or pointing out math-related concepts, when interacting with your child throughout your day to increase her understanding.
Math in Your Daily Routine
You can easily incorporate math talk into your daily routine. A few examples include:
- When reading a story, ask your child to count the objects on a page of the book.
- When eating, encourage math connections by having children count the items on their plate and describe the temperature.
- Use a sand timer when children are brushing their teeth so they can see the time passing.
- Include sequencing when changing diapers or washing hands (e.g. “First, we step up to the sink, second we turn on the water.”).
Math talk can also be used when completing age-appropriate chores:
- When setting the table, encourage your children to think about the number of people in your family and make predictions about how many plates, glasses or utensils they will need for everyone.
- Compare the heaviness of a full laundry basket to how light the basket is without clothes, or count items of clothing while folding laundry.
Math-Friendly Toys and Games
As parents, our role is to recognize when children might be exploring a math concept and ask questions to deepen their understanding. Encourage your child to talk about math by asking open-ended “how” and “why” questions as they play.
Here are a few common toys and games that naturally incorporate math:
Infant and Toddler
- Shape sorters
- Knob puzzles
- Cups in varying sizes (perfect for bath time)
Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten
- Large puzzles
- Pattern cards and blocks
- Sand or water table with various containers
- Memory games with matching cards or objects
- Rhythm sticks
- Card games that involve counting, such as Go Fish
- Scales or balances
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Play dough
- Age-appropriate wooden, plastic or foam blocks
The more you include math talk in daily conversations and activities with your children, the more they will begin to make connections between math and their own lives. As you can see, it’s easy to make math a part of everything you do together. Happy counting!