Children learn that math can be fun

What is more fun for young children than teaching them with food and objects they love? They can learn number meaning while counting, touching, and moving objects during meals and playtime. This way they learn that number meaning is much more than just memorizing a sequence of numbers.

Adults can casually teach what numbers mean at meal and snack times. You will need food like cereal, crackers, and berries, pieces of bread, fruit, vegetables or cheese for starters.

Begin by counting a few food items as you place them on the plate. Gently help children count while moving the food together. Children can also count as they eat each piece of food, help set the table, and clean up.

Math check

Counting can also be used to check how many pieces of food remain. “How many more pieces of corn do you have left on the plate?” Children also love to separate and count different kinds of food in trail or fruit mixes. Be sure it’s a number they can count successfully. When children master lower numbers, continue with the next few numbers. Mastering means your children do a skill very easily and naturally. Just keep everything casual, game-like, and fun.

Continue with other objects around the house. There are so many objects to count inside and outside. Sort light and dark clothes and count the shirts placed in the washer. Count a pile of stones, snowballs, groceries, trees, steps, building blocks, or red cars. While playing ball, count the number of throws or rolls back and forth. Games like Chutes and Ladders also reinforce math skills as children count and move the play pieces around the board.

You’re teaching that one counting number equals one touch or move. Learning to say one number for one object is real counting and may take lots of practice. Children may double count and skip numbers for a time.

Counting during chores

Straightening the house by putting toys in containers is another good counting game. Adults can pick up the majority of the toys and leave a manageable amount for young ones to pick up and count as they “plunk” the toys softly in the correct container. That sound is important. One quiet “plunk” equals one counting number. When the fun part of the human brain is used it is easier to learn.

Besides learning what numbers mean, picking up finger food helps develop small hand muscles. This fine motor skill is needed for printing. After lots of practice picking up finger foods, blocks, and similar objects children usually can bring the thumb and pointer finger together to grasp crayons and pencils correctly. The middle finger comes under the pencil for added support. For more see, Through the Seasons, Facebook and Pinterest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.