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5 Essential Math Skills for Preschoolers


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Before they start school, most children develop an understanding of math through everyday interactions. Learn what informal activities give kids a head start when they start learning math in school. Here are 5 Essential Math Skills for Preschoolers. These math activities for preschoolers help in building a strong foundation.

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Math Activities for Preschoolers

Here are the five most important skills that a kid should know before start going to a school.

1. Big or Small

Teaching the difference between big and small is generally the starting point for preschoolers. It helps them learn mathematical concepts. The kids learn the concept if it’s taught in a fun way. If the kid enjoys what she/he is doing, the kid will learn sooner. These are some of the activities that can be used to introduce the concept of Big and Small.  Most preschoolers enjoy talking about how big they are or comparing themselves to other objects or children. These types of activities interest them a lot.

math activities for preschoolers

Here are some of the activities you can try with your kid:

  1. Music is a wonderful way of introducing new concepts to preschoolers. Play some nursery rhymes about big and small. Here are some of the nursery rhymes about big and small.
  1. Make a box of different items containing things in 2 sizes. For example, a big stone and a small stone, a long pencil and a short pencil, a big jar and a small jar. Get 2 empty cartons, one big and one small, and ask your kid to help you sort the big and the small items into them.
  2. Try and use the terms ‘big’ and ‘small’ in daily life as much as you can, even in normal conversations with your child, while showing the kid examples of big and small.
  3.  Make a book by stapling a few pages together. Ask your child to draw small things and big things. You can also ask to look for pictures of small and big objects in any old magazine, cut them, and paste them into the book. 
  4. Games are always fun and all children love them, especially outdoor games. You can teach the concept of big and small by giving the kid fun instructions like “Hide behind something big”,  “Touch the biggest/smallest thing you see”.

2. More or Less

Teaching more and less concepts to kids is an essential part of their learning. This helps them compare the number of objects and identify which is more or less. The concept of more and less can be taught using toys, attractive objects, fruits, vegetables, etc. rather than only with words. Research supports that children learn better from the visual structure, as compared to words or text.

The concept of more or less can be taught by creating two groups of objects and let the kid match or count the objects in the two groups. This skill helps a kid to

  • tell which group has more by matching or counting the number of objects in both groups
  • tell which group has less by matching or counting the number of objects in both groups
  • tell when groups are equal by matching or counting

3. Long or Short

Long and short are preschool and kindergarten math concepts that children need to grasp in order to compare objects later. Here are some activities to help a kid learn the comparison words – long and short and how to apply these concepts to daily life. 

To introduce the concept of long and short use the objects that interest kid. Here are some of such activities:

  1. Using crayons: Place two crayons of equal length horizontally on a table. Explain that the crayons are the same length. Now, place a crayon of different lengths on the table and explain the meaning of long and short by comparing.
  2. Using Straw: Cut a straw into multiple length pieces. Ensure that at least two pieces are equal lengths. 
  3. Clay Models: Give a child play-doh or clay to make earthworms and caterpillars. Guide the kid to make long, longer, and longest or short, shorter and shortest earthworms and caterpillars.
  4. Music and Rhymes: Enjoy the rhymes with a kid. Here are some of the nursery rhymes about long and short.

4. Heavy or Light

Preschooler kids grasp the basic concepts of measurement quickly. 

  1. Using different objects: Drop various objects of extreme (e.g., feather and a pebble) and determine whether heavy or light.
  2. Using Scale: Weigh various objects on a scale and place them in “heavy” or “light” boxes. You can collect household objects like comb, brush, pen, pencil, etc.
  3. Here are some of the nursery rhymes about heavy and light

5. Same and Different

Sorting is one of the first concepts to be introduced to a child. It is an essential skill for kids to understand before many other math skills are developed. They need to know what makes objects the same and different in order to understand the concept of sorting. Diversity activities teach young children to respect and celebrate the differences in nature. 

  1. The same and different concepts can be introduced by using things like a pair of socks, pencils, blocks, etc. 
  2. Same and different hairs. You need photographs of different hairstyles, types. Ask children to identify the different types of hair by talking about hair texture and curl. For example, some people have fine, thin hair while others have thick, coarse hair. Some people have straight hair and some people have curly hair. Talk about how people have different hair colors, lengths, and styles.
  3. Some of the nursery rhymes on same and different are:

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