I have mentioned before (many times) that Grace resists "school time" every day.
Because my earliest homeschool lessons were boring and repetitive (because I was strictly following the Calvert curriculum that was at least a year behind her ability), she associates school time with boring and repetitive.
It's hugely unfortunate, and I haven't been able to break that association in the three years since.
At the same time, Grace wallows in informal learning like an elated pig in a big mud hole. She can't get enough of her lapbooks and nature walks and science experiments and mazes and brain teasers and educational apps. It's amazing.
She has even grown to like reading - as long as it's not the stories in her Calvert reader - and writing - as long as it's not an assignment.
I have to carefully plan to get all the different subjects worked creatively into our days. I know there's a time when she'll have to "do school" simply because she has to, but for now, I'm trying really hard to rebuild her innate desire to learn.
Along the same lines, Allie just likes to play. She's 2. She likes to count and do puzzles and sing and play on the iPad. She loves to watch tv and listen to music.
There's no way I'm going to "do school" with Allie, but I do want to foster her love of learning before she gets to that point.
This post is sponsored by PBS Kids' new show Peg + Cat.
Because it's on PBS KIDS, I feel confident that Peg + Cat will meet my high standards for content and quality. In the new series, premiering October 7, Peg and her sidekick, Cat, embark on adventures, solve problems, and learn math concepts and skills.
Math isn't just about counting. Each episode of Peg + Cat features a story in which Peg and Cat encounter a problem that requires them to use math and problem-solving skills to move forward. The storylines also teach cooperation, perseverance, and resiliency - traits that are important both in and out of the classroom.
20 Ways to Get Preschoolers Excited About Math
Math Manipulatives for Play - We have a variety of math manipulatives, primarily for Grace's schooling, but I get them out and let both Grace and Allie play with them however they want. In the photo above, Grace is playing with Base Ten Blocks, and Allie is playing with fraction circles. They also love their rainbow fraction tray, 3D shapes, and their Unifix cubes. (All of these manipulatives have very small pieces, so use caution with your littles.)
iPad and iPhone games - I have written about apps over and over (and have a couple of posts coming up in October!), but our favorite toddler math apps include Park Math, TeachMe: Toddlers, and Monkey Preschool Lunchbox.
Count with Candy - We have done all kinds of candy-based math activities for "school time," but many of them can be adapted for preschoolers. You can count jelly beans, candy corn, candy hearts, or gummy bears, sort them by color or shape, use them to make patterns, taste test them, and use them to for fine motor practice (by picking them up with tweezers or a spoon). Tina at Mamas Like Me did something similar with marshmallows, and Shaunna from Fantastic Fun and Learning did it with vegetables.
Make a dry erase activity book - This is for older preschoolers, not quite for Allie yet, but Grace loved hers for a long time. She draws in it even now, and she's 6. I printed coloring and number and pattern pages to put inside, and Grace worked on them over and over.
Play with a geoboard - We made our geoboard at home, but you can also buy geoboard on Amazon. They're really cheap, so I'm not sure I'd make one if I had it to do all over again. You use rubber bands to make shapes - numbers, letters, geometric shapes, even pictures like houses. We've had a lot of fun with our geoboard.
Cook together - Kids can begin helping in the kitchen as soon as they can stand up. You can count scoops or spoonfuls, you can count the seconds while you stir, you can talk about colors. I cannot think of a single recipe that my kids can't help with. One of our favorites, though, is apple crisp.
Make counting art - When Grace was 4, we made a 100 poster. Allie might like to make a 5 poster at this point. You know your own tot, so make whatever seems appropriate. Basically, we glued objects onto a poster and wrote each number next to each object. Simple, fun, and helped a lot with number awareness.
Jump around - I love this jumping game from Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine. Basically, she drew clouds with numbers inside and had her tot jump from one number to the next. It looks like fun! I found a similar game from Emma at P is for Preschool (shared at TeachMama).
Make your own manipulatives - Cathy from Nurture Store created a bunch of activities around a set of circles she cut from craft foam. Allie would love this! Mary Catherine from fun-a-day also has a post with (mostly) homemade manipulatives on 1 to 1 correspondence and another with rock shapes, Play Dr. Mom shares a variety of counting activities using manipulatives from around the house.
Clothespin numbers - I never saw this before, but I love the idea, and I think Allie would love it, too. Annette from Tips from a Typical Mom shared a printable number game where kids pin clothespins onto big number cards.
Do monster math - This is another from Cathy from Nurture Store, and I love it! She made number-eating monsters, and her girls had fun feeding numbers to the monsters. For littler ones, they could identify the color or the number they're feeding the monster. We are definitely going to do this one.
Count your feet - This is an awesome activity from Jillian at A Mom with a Lesson Plan that involves tracing your tot's feet. Allie will really like this one, too.
Make a giant abacus - Anna at The Imagination Tree made a giant abacus with beads and string and a huge cardboard box. It looks awesome. Forget the kids; I want to play with it.
Play with "fire hoses" - Julie from Creekside Learning did a fun activity where she drew houses with numbers inside, and her son put out the fires with water.
String beads - Anna at The Imagination Tree shared an activity that I was actually planning to do with Allie (too bad she thought of it first!). She had her wee ones string beads on spaghetti to make patterns. Allie would totally love that.
Paint by number - Allison at Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine did a really fun paint by number activity - in the shower! My kids would go crazy for this!
Make cupcakes - Rebecca at Here Comes the Girls made play dough cupcakes with her girls and helped them put big number candles on each one. Then the fun began as they put the right number of objects (sprinkles, feathers, regular candles) on each cupcake.
Simon Says - Kristi at Creative Connections for Kids has a really fun way of playing Simon Says with numbers. Check it out.
Go for a walk - Go on a shape scavenger hunt like Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy.
Watch tv - Everyone needs downtime. Sometimes I have things to clean or phone calls to make. I've started having a quiet time during my breakfast in the morning. I allow my girls to watch tv during some of those times. Until now, our only programs that include math concepts have been Team Umizoomi and a LeapFrog DVD (which we love), but we're really excited for the brand new show called Peg + Cat.
Getting preschoolers excited about math isn't - and shouldn't ever be - about adding numbers on worksheets. Kids this age need movement and manipulatives and fun, not papers and pencils. The activities above will get you and your preschoolers moving along in the right direction by getting them interested and excited in math concepts without drilling the fun of math right out of their little brains.
I can't wait to see what you come up with!
JDaniel4's Mom says
My son is so excited about Peg + Cat. He has been watching clips of it on PBSKids.org.
Tara Ziegmont says
What did he think? No one was home but me, but I was so curious I watched for a bit. They use AWESOME vocabulary!
Kelsey Cole says
Those characters are originally from a book called "The Chicken Problem" by Jennifer Oxley. It's a fabulous book! You should check it out from your library!
I love these fun ways to explore numbers! Thanks for compiling this list!
Great post! Off to pin it 🙂
What great ideas, my middle daughter (who is only almost 4) absolutely hates anything to do with school...she won't even be in the same room as her sister when she is doing schoolwork!
Mary Catherine says
What a great resource! Thanks so much for including my rocks and 1-to-1 posts here with such great suggestion!
What a nice selection of fantastic ideas. My son loves counting, i bet he'll love it even more with these activities. I especially love being the fire fighter play.