November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking: Preschoolers

Preschoolers continue to act like scientists as they explore the environment and materials available for learning. Continue to use a plethora (a math term meaning a large or excessive amount) of math language in your day to day conversations with children.  There are other ways you can boost the opportunity to use and think about mathematical concepts throughout the daily routine. 

  • Clean up is a sorting and classifying activity. Talk with children about the attributes of the items they are cleaning up. Discuss why some blocks go in one spot while others are located in a different container.  Place outlines of the shapes of blocks on shelves so children can practice matching blocks to their outlines.
  • Encourage children to add complexity to their building projects- younger children typically build tall straight towers.  Introduce children to images of sprawling and intricate castles and famous architecture.
  • Measure the weather. Move beyond dressing the weather bear.  Track temperatures over a week, month, and year.  Measure rainfall or snowfall, determine the direction of the wind, and explore shadows. Find ways to visually represent your data.  Ask children what they notice about the data they are collecting.
  • Measure everything.  You don’t have to assign this as a task, simply provide rulers, measuring tapes, spoons, cups, scales, a balance, etc. in different learning centers and encourage children to explore attributes of the object they encounter.
  • Use a variety of shapes to build new shapes.  A simple example is the way that two squares placed side-by-side create a rectangle.  What happens when you combine triangles? Or hexagons?
  • Explore characteristics of shapes.  Introduce more advanced shapes such as arches, cones, crescents, octagons, semi-circles, trapezoids, cubes, cylinders, and pyramids (3-D), etc.  Have manipulatives available for this exploration; stay away from worksheets at this time.
  • Introduce and use more-advanced directional language such as horizontal, vertical, diagonal, etc.
  • Play with symmetry and asymmetry. Use paint, loose parts, mirrors, etc. to create different forms.
  • Time is a pretty abstract concept for children of this age.  Rather than focusing on teaching how to tell time, focus on helping children learn the sequence of the routine.  Use language such as before, after, first, next, later, etc. 
  • Play active games incorporate mathematical concepts such as sorting materials, scavenger hunts (find shapes,  things that are 2 inches long, etc.), or obstacle courses using directional language. Also think about creating math games based on children’s favorite books and stories.

This list just scrapes the surface of all of the possibilities for exploring math with preschoolers.  Add your favorite ideas on our Facebook page.

For the main article Promoting Mathematical Thinking, CLICK HERE

For the article Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Kindergarten & School-Agers, CLICK HERE

For the article Families, CLICK HERE