How do I teach preschool math?
What concepts should I include?
Where do I find materials?
These are common questions I hear from readers and members of the Home Preschool Help Facebook group.
In my opinion preschool math is best taught through hands-on activities where children have the opportunity to touch and interact with learning materials. And the truth is you probably have all you need to teach preschool math at your fingertips. Whether you’re teaching preschool at home or in the classroom, preschool math can be taught using materials you have on hand. As an example of that here we’re using pom poms to practice a variety of preschool math skills.
All you need to get started is a bin or small container of of pom poms. You can also include a scoop and some sorting cups. Depending on what materials you have at home this series of activities could also be done with buttons.
What preschool math skills can you practice with pom poms? A lot!
Counting, Adding, and Subtracting
Practice counting by scooping (or grabbing) pom poms from the bin. Count one scoop at a time for beginners.
As kids are comfortable counting sets of objects with 5 or fewer items, you can begin counting two sets. Then model combining the two sets and counting how many there are in all to practice beginning addition.
Once kids are comfortable combining sets you can gather one scoop of pom poms and place them on the learning surface. Then cover some of them with your hand and move them away from the pile to model separating (or beginning subtraction). Count how many are left after you remove some from the set.
Sorting and Patterning
Pom poms are also great for sorting if you have a variety of sizes and colors. Here we sorted the pom poms by size. Kids can also sort the pom poms by color depending on the group of pom poms used.
Pom poms are also great for making patterns. If your child is just learning about patterns you can create a pattern using the pom poms, and ask your child to copy the same pattern below the one you made.
As your child becomes comfortable doing that ask him or her to extend the pattern by adding the pom poms that would come next.
And as your child become more skilled with patterning encourage him or her to make up new patterns.
The final math activity we do with our pom pom bin is making shapes. Preschoolers can use their pom poms to make basic shapes like circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.
You can even extend this learning by counting how many pom poms it takes to make a small circle. Then make a bigger circle and compare how many pom poms it takes to make that circle.
Instead of doing these activities all at one, I’d keep the materials ready and choose one or two of these activities each day. This helps eliminate preparation time, and let’s kids interact with the materials in a variety of ways to practice different skills.
I hope you’re feeling like preschool math doesn’t have to involve a lot of fancy materials!
Want to chat with others how are teaching preschool at home? Join our Home Preschool Help Facebook group.