One, two, buckle my shoe
Three, four, close the door...
Remember the familiar rhyme? It’s been recited for decades, perhaps centuries, and it’s sure to be around well into the future. Times may change but some things don’t, and regardless of the generation, children love counting! Navigate a set of stairs with a toddler and try to stop her from counting each one, or watch a preschooler sort his Lego or other toys into groups—you’d never know he was cleaning up!
Kids are naturally fascinated by numbers, colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns. And that’s good. Because their interest helps them develop key skills such as counting, comparing, sorting, and measuring, which are all important building blocks for math readiness.
You don’t have to be an expert yourself to help your kids lay the groundwork. Every day is chock full of opportunities to teach children that math is a part of the real world. Shopping, traveling, gardening, meal planning, cooking, eating, even laundry are all opportunities that allow you to apply math to your daily routine. Ask questions and talk about numbers and amounts whenever you can, and play simple card games or board games that require your child to count, sort, tell time, estimate, or reason.
Most of all, keep it fun! Here’s a tasty way to give your child some counting practice.
What You Need:
- Empty egg carton, washed in hot water, then dried
- Pen or marker
- Small food items (raisins, cereal, chocolate chips, candies) or buttons
What You Do:
Write the numbers 1 to 12 on the individual sections of an egg carton. Have your child count out each number using small food items. Then have her fill each numbered section with the correct number of items. Once the sections are filled, work in reverse, having your child identify each number, count the pieces, and then eat them! You can line the egg carton with aluminum foil if you are worried about the cleanliness of the carton.
Adapted with permission from "The Preschooler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner (Meadowbrook Press, 1998)