Preschoolers are beginning to construct working concepts of numbers
through interactions with people and materials. Activities should capitalize
on children’s natural curiosity and the need to understand the world around
them, by placing emphasis on numbers, shapes, sizes, and patterns.
Introduce them to money and measurement in their daily activities as well.
Develop number concepts (one to ten, and ten to one) through songs
o “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” (use visuals and/or hand motions)
o “Five Little Ducks” (use a book, or toy ducks, or fingers)
Develop number concepts and counting
o Have your child touch each object with a finger when s/he counts.
This uses one-to-one correspondence.
o Make up little stories with animal or people toys, where one more
comes along, or one goes away. This is beginning addition or
E.g.: Put 10 small bear counters in a small clear container.
Use a round lid on the table to be a swimming pool. Have a
bear stand by the pool, and jump in. How many bears? One!
Another bear comes and wants to play. “Come in!” Count
them again after each bear jumps in. Use words like “one
more,” “in all,” “altogether,” etc.
E.g.: A dog (toy/puppet) has food to eat. Put (10) cheerios
along the table. Count them. The dog eats one (slip one to
your mouth!). How many are left? Count and continue.
Develop one-to-one correspondence (“One for one”)
o Help set the table. Make placemats for each family member with
outline of each item and have child put utensil on top of visual.
(One object for one outline.)
o Pass out snacks. One napkin for each friend (“one for __, one for
PARENT HANDBOOK 6 MATH Page 1 of 4
o Play Candy Land Game—(1:1 Correspondence—playing pieces
make one jump on each square.) Also addresses social/emotional
Hint: Put Velcro on each game board space, and also on
bottom of game pieces, to keep game pieces on the board.
Option: Put special treats at each “special spot.” They must
share the treat with all players if they land on a special spot.
Set time limits (Start with 5 or 10 minutes, and gradually
increase time as attention span grows.)
Match numbers to objects
o Make a set of number cards to use (start with 1-10). Write one
number (about 1-2” tall) on each card. Draw a line under the 6 and
the 9 to tell them apart.
o When you count sets of objects, put a number card next to the
objects, explaining: “You have 3 bears. This is number 3.”
o Whenever you can, show/use written numbers in your activities.
Sort and classify objects by characteristics
o Sort blocks or other counters by color: use a paper plate that has
sections in it for keeping colors separate.
o Sort shapes of beads into cups or muffin tins. Make a string of
round beads, another string of square beads, etc.
o Sort pegs by color. Make a row of each color on the pegboard.
Explore patterning at home
o During snack time have child make patterns:
1 Goldfish, 1 Cheerio; 1 Goldfish, 1 Cheerio; and so on… (A-
1 Goldfish, 1 Cheerio, 1 Cheeze-It;… (A-B-C pattern)
1 Goldfish, 1 Goldfish, 1 Cheerio;…( A-A-B pattern)
1 Goldfish, 1 Cheerio, 1 Cheerio;…( A-B-B pattern).
o Develop patterns when working with manipulatives
(A-B; A-B-C; A-A-B; etc.)
Color—red/blue, red/blue… (can put pegs in pegboard)
PARENT HANDBOOK 6 MATH Page 2 of 4
Size—big/med/small beads… (can string on a necklace)
Shape—truck/bus/car… (can be lined up on a road in
Develop awareness about money
o Keep a piggy bank, and count pennies going into the bank, one by
o Play grocery store with play food and a toy cash register. Pretend
to buy items. Use words in your play that develop beginning
money concepts: “2 coins please,” “money please,” “two dollars,”
“change back” etc.
o Give a quarter/or a dollar at a candy store. What can you buy for
that amount of money?
o Begin looking at price tags and talking about values of coins.
Recognize, describe, and name common shapes
o Play “I Spy” games using shapes. To help focus on each shape,
use a visual (puzzle piece or picture) to show the shape you are
looking for in the room.
Easy language: Say the word only, when miming looking for
and matching the same shape: “Square….square!”
Harder: Ask a question: “Where is the square?
Square….Here it is! Square!”
o Do shape puzzles. Also work puzzles that show real objects
pictured in shapes. Name the shapes as you put them in the board.
o Have your child uses fingers to draw shapes in shaving cream,
naming them as they appear.
Develop Math Vocabulary
o Spatial sense: As you manipulate toys and objects, talk about
front/back, over/under, inside/outside, etc.,
o Ordinal and position words: Use words showing number place into
your games and directions: first, second, third, (etc) as well as first,
o Quantity words: Use words such as more, fewer, most; less than,
PARENT HANDBOOK 6 MATH Page 3 of 4
Sort a handful of rainbow colored cereals by color. Count
and compare how many of each color you have.
Compare toy vehicles by type: cars, trucks, buses, airplanes,
etc. Put pieces of painter’s tape on your table or floor, and
make a line for each vehicle. Count and compare.
o Read books that introduce your child to these math concepts. You
can even match counters/objects to the book to make the story
Develop Measurement Skills
o Use terms to compare objects.
“This is too small. I need a bigger box.”
Use comparison words in your daily work and play:
taller/shorter; heavier/lighter; larger/smaller; slower/faster
o Use standard and nonstandard measurement tools
Measure the length of your table using hands.
Use a growth chart to measure height (feet and inches)
Measure a cup of flour when cooking.
o Explore measureable concepts of time and sequence
Use “first” and “then” as you go about daily routine.
Talk about future events that will happen: “After we eat, we
will go outside.”
As they understand more language, use “first, next, and last.”
Make a weekly family calendar. Leave space for recording
some events that you did on each day.
PARENT HANDBOOK 6 MATH Page 4 of 4