Fun activities to promote math skills

Sorting objects by shape, color, and size. Counting to ten. Recognizing groups and patterns. You can help your preschooler master these early math skills simply by playing games in and around the house. Forget the flashcards and number drills; if you want your child to love numbers, show him how math is part of everyday life and he’ll be eager to learn more once he starts school.

Here are 12 fun ways to introduce your child to the world of math. Because children learn in different ways, they’re arranged by learning style.

For the visual learner

Go on a number safari. When you’re driving around town, have your child look for numbers in street and store signs, and on license plates. Call out the numbers as you find them. Your child should be able to recognize numbers up to ten before kindergarten.

Connect the dots. This old standby will help your child understand number sequencing; that is, that one is followed by two, two by three, etc. Bookstores are full of coloring books with connect the dot themes (and don’t worry if your child only wants a Teletubby or Pokémon theme — it’s all about the numbers right now).

Make a phone call.Write the phone number of a friend or relative down on a piece of paper. Have your child dial the number to give him practice reading numbers left to right.

Count everything around you. Count people standing in line, the number of steps to the library, the cracks in the sidewalk

For the physical learner

Count and sort household items. Mix up the knives, forks, and spoons from the silverware drawer and have your child group them by type and count how many there are in each group. Do the same with your sock drawer (by color, by size), your child’s stuffed animal collection (group the animals by big and small; put all the bears together). Have your child help you fold and sort laundry. How many socks are there? How many T-shirts? Have him divide them into groups.

Go on a shape search around the house. Look for squares, triangles, circles, stars — any kind of shape. Your child will be expected to recognize, draw, and manipulate shapes well into 1st grade (not to mention high school geometry!).

Play with shape puzzles and blocks. Manipulating three-dimensional objects — playing with a shape-sorter box, for example — will introduce your child to basic geometry as well as help develop his fine motor skills and spatial reasoning.

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