What is math readiness? For young children it encompasses a handful of principles. Have you ever heard anyone say “I hate math” or “I’m no good at math”? I literally don’t understand those comments. It’s impossible to get on in Life without math. Children, in particular, need to be exposed straightaway to math activities to add to their concrete knowledge base.
And by math activities I don’t mean filling in worksheets or completing levels of a computer game. Oh my NO!! Step out your door and into a world of math possibilities! For example, a hike can start laying your child’s foundation for math readiness.
What’s That Sound?
As far as I’m concerned hiking any time is a gift. But if you’re looking for a sensory-rich experience for your kiddos, think about hiking in Spring!
● See multitudes shades of green (BTW, did you know people are able to discern more shades/tones of green than any other color?);
● Smell a wide assortment of odors—from pungent to earthy to sweet; and
● Hear a cacophony of sounds. Not just the sounds you make plodding (or laboring as the case may be) up the trail, but the sound of
– wind blowing through the branches-
– water rippling over rocks in a creek-
– squirrels chattering-
– woodpeckers drilling in search of food-
and frogs croaking!
In preschool I would sing about frogs on a log using a flannelboard to make it interactive for the kiddos. It’s an easy DIY project!
individual flannel pieces: wooden log, (5) frogs, pond, grass
NOTE: This can be done using construction paper cutouts on a table too.
● Set up flannelboard
● Place pieces on board except for frogs
● Put 1 frog/time on log; letting your kiddo count along
—- NOTE: Instead of just counting 1,2,3,4,5 try this. After the 2nd frog is on the log ASK:
There are 2 frogs on the log, if 1 more hops on how many will there be? If they’re not sure then put the 3rd frog on and count all of them highlighting that 1 added to 2 (or 1 more than 2) is 3.
● When all 5 frogs are on the log, have your kiddo recount the frogs and then you’re ready for the song!
Help children LEARN through Singing!
Sing 5 Green and Speckled Frogs. Remember children don’t care in the least if you sing on key—just have fun with it!
5 green and speckled frogs (Hold up hand, 5 fingers extended)
Sitting on a freckled log (Rest base of hand on opposite hand)
Eating the most delicious bugs (Pretend to eat with gusto)
YUM! 2x (Rub belly)
1 jumped into the pool (1 finger dives off ‘log’)
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are ______ green speckled frogs (Fold 1 finger down)
NOTE: Pause for a moment to see if your kiddo can say how many are left without counting it out. If not, take the time to count while simultaneously showing the correct number of fingers.
Continue for 4, 3, 2, and 1.
Question for Math Readiness….
After the last frog jumps off the log, ASK:
How many frogs are on the log now? (zero or none) and
Tell me how many frogs are in the water? (5)
Did your kiddo know there would be 5 in the water without counting? If so, they’re showing you they understand the principle of conservation. Conservation of number relates to the fact the quantity/amount/number remains the same whether items are grouped differently; for example 5 items grouped closely together or far apart OR 5 frogs all on a log or in the water, five is five.
After your kiddo is familiar with the song, etc check midway—say after 3 frogs have jumped into the cool pool. ASK:
How many frogs have jumped into the water? (3)
Do you know how many frogs are still on the log? (2)
How many frogs all together—in the water and on the log–does that make? (3 + 2) They may shout out 5 straightaway.
Some kiddos seem to inherently ‘get’ order irrelevance. Order irrelevance is another principle children need to master. It relates to the fact that groups of items can be counted from different starting points. Using the frogs as an example, kiddos can count them in any order (left to right/ frogs on logs then frogs in the water OR right to left/frogs in the water then frogs on the log) that the order counted is irrelevant (right to left vs left to right) as long as one frog is counted at a time. BUT order irrelevance isn’t something all kiddos ‘get’ and that’s perfectly normal too. So go through the process-help them get to their AH-HA! moment when things click.
Early Math Principles….
In addition to order irrelevance and conservation of number, there are some other math principles young children need to master.
● Rote Counting: This entails being able to say the names of numbers in the correct, sequential order. With our frog example above, letting your kiddo count the frogs while putting them on the log gives them a chance to practice.
● One-to-One Correspondence: This principle involves a ‘pairing’ if you will; an object receives one count and only one count. While your kiddo is counting the frogs on the log, note if they skip over a number or say more than one number while pointing to the frogs. If they do, slow things down and encourage them to touch each frog while they count.
● Cardinality: When kiddos understand this principle they know the last number used to count a group of objects represents how many are in that group. Again, when your kiddo counted the frogs on the log—if you asked how many frogs there were if they had to re-count that would indicate they do not understand cardinality. They’d already counted 5. There are 5 frogs.
Add Physical Development….
Keep the interest exceptionally high by encouraging the kiddos to engage physically too. READ: One Two Three JUMP! by Penelope Lively.
The kiddos always enjoy this book…and so do I!
Reading 1,2,3 Jump at Little Bookworms
Math—whether it’s arithmetic, algebra, calculus, statistics, geometry or theory—is integral to our lives whether we’re aware of it or not. Developing your child’s math readiness skills, naturally through PLAY, gives them confidence they can tackle numbers—real or imaginary—in 3D or higher dimensions. It’s setting them up for success!
Yours in PLAY!