Making collages is a great way to support early math development. Cutting out paper shapes with your child provides opportunities to count the number of sides of each shape, become familiar with their names. You can help your child think about how the pieces you cut out could fit together, like you are making your own puzzle. You can also engage him/her in higher-level comparative thinking by asking what various shapes have in common and how they are different.
In addition to supporting early math development, cutting out shapes, manipulating small pieces, and gluing them on to a piece of paper helps develop fine motor skills, and encourages rich conversations about what you are creating. If you have blocks available, you can incorporate them into this activity by tracing, comparing, and discussing!
Homemade Play Dough
Play dough is a universally appealing activity, providing children with an opportunity to experience a sensory approach to play and learning. You and your child can practice math skills by counting the steps in the recipe, measuring ingredients, and discussing the concept of part(s) versus whole. Challenge you child to make familiar shapes with the play dough and compare sizes, introducing the concept of big versus small.
Creating and manipulating the dough will strengthen your child’s fingers and support his/her fine motor development, essential to school readiness. There are also endless opportunities for pretend play, which can “exercise” imagination and vocabulary, essential parts of early literacy development.
Helping your child create his/her very own 0-10 booklet is a fun and engaging way to develop early numeracy skills. Each page of the booklet can feature a number, starting at 0 and ending at 10, with a corresponding amount of items glued to the page. Once your child becomes familiar with larger numbers, you can add on!
When drawing or tracing each number, your child will become familiar with the symbolic nature of numbers and develop his/her fine motor skills. On each page, you can help your child glue the appropriate number of a sensory items (cotton balls, sequins, stickers, feathers—feel free to get creative!). As you glue and fill out each page, invite your child to count items and practice recognizing the names of each number. You’ll be helping him/her develop familiarity with numbers, and supporting memory and literacy skills.
Keep it open-ended
By focusing on the process—rather than the product—of an activity, you will be able to tailor the experience to your child’s interests and abilities, while he/she will have more freedom to explore and imagine.
Follow your child’s lead
Shape the activity around what he/she is most interested in. Be flexible and open to letting your child lead.
The best way to engage your child, strengthen your bond, and help him/her get the most out of an activity is to make it enjoyable for both of you.