Looking for fun ways to teach your preschooler numbers, counting and addition? Then, take a seat as Father Hood presents 6 fun math games for kids…
Newsflash: in the early years, mathematics does not have to be taught from a textbook. I know this, because I (with a little help from him mum, grandparents and nursery teachers) have been able to teach my 3-year-old son how to count to 100, recognise numbers and do basic addition without ever shoving a maths book in front of his eyes.
And do you know what the secret is? It’s reciting Pi to 1,000 digits in his ear every night while he sleeps. Only joking. It’s a mixture of asking him questions about the numbers that surround us in everyday life and coming up with some fun math games.
In terms of the former, try posing queries like: what number is this supermarket checkout? How many tennis balls are in the bucket? If Marshall and Rocky went to help someone and Chase and Skye joined them, how many PAW Patrol characters would be on the mission?
And in terms of the latter, try playing one of these brilliant math games for kids.
1. The Inventory
I came up with this simple, effective and nicely time-consuming math game just before 6am on a particularly testing Tuesday morning. My son, who had been up since 5.15am, was desperate to watch Peppa Pig, and I was desperate for this not to happen. Step forward ‘The Inventory’.
The Inventory involves asking your kid to count loads of stuff around the house, and I love it for three reasons. First, it has really improved my son’s counting ability. Second, it keeps him away from screens for a decent period of time. Third, it has helped me prove to my other half that we really do have too many boxes, cushions and Allen keys.
2. Multi-ball Shootout
Multi-ball Shootout sees you stand in goals while your child attempts to kick a variety of balls past or at you. Not only does it give you an excuse for not chucking out all the old balls that are lying about in your garden, it also gives you the chance to mix sport with maths by…
- Asking your child to count the balls before they shoot.
- Getting them to keep tally of the number of times they score.
- Continually questioning how many they have kicked and how many they have left.
Got a child who needs a bit more from a maths game? No problem. Potential brand extensions include: positioning the balls in a line from smallest to biggest, dividing them into colours and then counting them, and creating a scoring system along the lines of 1 point for hitting the post, 3 points for scoring a goal and 10 points for hitting daddy in the knackers.
3. Count The Toys
Does your kid have a RIDICULOUS number of cars/dolls/pieces of LEGO/trains/cuddly toys/unicorns? I feel your pain, but I also sniff a huge math games for kids opportunity. Here’s how it works…
- Ask your kid to place every single car/doll/piece of LEGO/train/cuddly toy/unicorn that they own in the middle of their bedroom or play area.
- Get them to line them up nicely (note: this step has no mathematical benefit, but it does eat up a lot of time).
- Get them to count how many cars/dolls/pieces of LEGO/trains/cuddly toys/unicorns that they own.
I say this because, whenever we play, the Bubster takes great pride in: counting out and distributing the five cards each player starts with, revealing that while he might not have a green, he can play a yellow 7 on my green 7, informing me that I need to pick up two, shouting Uno and telling me how many more cards I have than he does.
5. Milk Capsule Tower Building
Think you can only play my fun math games for kids in the house? Think again. Milk Capsule Tower Bingo is designed to entertain toddlers and preschoolers when you are out for lunch or dinner.
The basic, introductory version of Milk Capsule Tower Bingo sees you source a bunch of milk capsules – either from the section where the cutlery and condiments are, or from the waiting staff – and then begin a parent versus child game of build a tower until someone knocks it over (see video, above).
The mathematical edition follows a similar theme, but includes elements like…
- Splitting the capsules into two groups and asking your toddler to count how many are in each group.
- Challenging them to build four towers of three milk capsules (or two towers of five milk capsules, or two towers of three milk capsules and two towers of four milk capsules etc.).
- Asking them to place a set number of milk capsules in a line.
- Getting them to add a set number of milk capsules onto a line, or take them away from a line, or both.
6. Fun With Squares
This amusing little game fits into the ‘parent say, toddler/preschooler do’ bracket. Start by creating segmented areas on your floor. In the above picture, I’ve used my son’s interlocking floor mats as the zones, but you could quite easily break the space up using clothes, books, string, crayons or the many dozen Calpol syringes you keep in that kitchen drawer.
Next, place a variety of small stuff (books, toys, pens etc.) in the zones and hand your child a set of tongs to use as his or her “grabber”. Now, you’re ready to go. Begin the game by issuing an instruction like: “pick up two items from the green square and more them to the yellow square”, and then proceed on from there, turning up the difficulty level by using bigger numbers, challenging your kid to do the task in a set number of seconds or orating multiple instructions (e.g. “take two from there to there and then move three from here to there”).
And that’s it. Those are six of the best math games for kids that I know. I hope that you enjoyed the article and the games work as well for your children as they have for my son. Oh, and if you’ve got a great math game for kids, don’t be shy. Tell me all about it by commenting below.
Until next time…
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