Math Across the Curriculum
One of the recommendations from NAEYC and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics is:
- Integrate mathematics with other activities and other activities with mathematics.
There are so many opportunities to integrate math throughout the day and the learning environment. Math is everywhere. It should not be contained in one designated time of the day or learning center. The pre-math skills that young children explore can be incorporated into all areas and elements of the routine. Here are just a few ideas:
- Discuss the daily schedule or the steps of routines using math-related language such as first, second, third or now, next, later.
- Add a variety of measuring tools to the sensory table.
- Place rulers and measuring tapes in different areas of the learning environment.
- Create math games based on children’s favorite books or stories.
- Encourage children to notice the attributes of objects and materials, indoors and out.
- Provide loose parts or open-ended materials for children to explore.
- Cook with children using simple-to-follow recipes.
- Organize shape scavenger hunts.
- Sing, clap, and move to music.
- Add math-related materials to the dramatic play area.
- Practice deep breathing while counting to ten.
- Ask children to clean up all of the square or rectangle blocks.
- Integrate objects from nature into the math area for children to compare and contrast.
- Create simple shape puzzles using pictures of children and their families.
- Encourage children to complete class chores such as setting the table or watering plants as they count from one to five.
- Ask children to retell familiar stories using felt figures or story stones.
- Count the number of birds at the bird feeder on the playground.
- Plant a garden and collect data on its progress.
- Document attendance on a chart every day.
- Keep a weather journal, including daily temperatures, rainfall measurements, wind speeds, etc.
- Practice weaving and simple knitting.
- Decorate using patterns and talk with children about what they notice.
- Invest in or make your own light table.
- Weigh objects and estimate which items will be heavier or lighter than other objects.
- Provide materials for children to conduct sink/float experiments.
- Include dominoes, dice, and playing cards in different learning centers.
- Create simple riddles that describe shapes and other objects. For example, I am a rectangle and you look through me to see outside. What am I? (A window).
- Create variations of Memory or the magnet fishing game that includes items with different attributes.
- Use an egg timer or other tool to manage turn-taking and advanced warnings for transitions.
This list could go on and on. There are so many math games and activities that can be introduced to children in the math center or in small group time. Be sure you are looking for opportunities beyond the math center to incorporate math exploration. Not every activity needs to be a long lesson. Sometimes a quick conversation will plant a seed that children explore later. As you can see from the list – sometimes, the teachers’ only involvement is to present materials and allow children to explore in open-ended ways.
Again, take some time to evaluate how math is extended into other areas of your learning environment. Look for opportunities that you may be missing and work with your teaching team to capitalize on these additional learning opportunities.
For the main article Math in the Early Years, CLICK HERE
For the article NAEYC’s Recommendations for High-Quality Math Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Pre-math Skills in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE
For the article Using the Language of Math, CLICK HERE