Preschoolers are just learning to recognize their numbers and count up to 10 or 20, which may make you think that they are too young for math. But math education begins in preschool and children as young as three and four can start to learn basic math concepts through logic games and classifying activities. Parents and teachers alike can incorporate logic and classification into daily activities to help preschoolers prepare for elementary school math.
The simplest way for preschoolers to begin to understand classification is through sorting. Parents can easily incorporate sorting activities throughout the day. Preschoolers can begin to sort like items by color, shape and size. Look for opportunities to ask your child to group objects together according to their size or shape and to separate toys by type at snack and clean-up time. Shape-sorting toys and puzzles should be included among her toys.
Preschoolers can begin to understand simple graphs by creating them in the preschool classroom. When you serve a snack, ask the class who likes apples best and who likes oranges best. Create a chart showing the names of the students who prefer apples under an apple and those who prefer oranges under an orange. By seeing everyone's names on this simple chart, students can visualize whether more children like apples or oranges. You can repeat this throughout the school year, making graphs to go with other lessons. Examples include charts of the students' favorite Halloween candies, favorite winter activities or favorite songs.
Understanding patterns is a precursor skill to more complicated logic problems. Throughout the day, encourage preschoolers to identify classroom patterns, such as the patterns on the rug or patterns on the shelves or bulletin boards. Give them opportunities to create patterns with beads, blocks and everyday objects. During circle time, show basic patterns, such as a picture of two triangles, followed by one circle, followed by two triangles, and then one circle. Ask the students to guess what comes next in the sequence.
Riddles and Guessing Games
Preschoolers begin to develop their logic and thinking skills by answering questions and playing games that require reasoning or critical thinking. Include riddles and guessing games throughout the day. Preschoolers will enjoy guessing an object that is hidden in a paper bag from clues given, and the process teaches them to put clues together to figure out an answer. Silly riddles will make them laugh, but will also get them beginning to think of logical answers.
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