Reinforcing numbers and counting is a great way to help your preschooler learn the basics of math. Many times, after counting books or toys, I'll take some away, and ask 4 year old Luke to re-count what's remaining. When he gets the answer correct, I tell him, "Yes! That's right! We had 8 cars, we took away 3 cars, and now we have 5 cars. So 8 minus 3 equals 5." I'm pretty sure he doesn't yet get what 'minus' means, but I'm just introducing a new word to him and using it in context.
Here are some other ideas for introducing and/or reinforcing numbers and counting to a pre-schooler as you go about your day:
- When you're cooking, read the recipe to your pre-schooler as you add ingredients. For example, "The directions say to start with 2 cups of water." Then let him/her help you count the cups as you add them to the sauce pan.
- When setting the table, instruct your preschooler to "put 4 plates and 4 forks on the table." Then ask him, "How many glasses do you think we'll need?"
- When playing use numbers and counting, "can you put 4 blocks in a row?" "can you jump 6 times?" "Simon Says take 3 steps backward"
- At snack time, count out your preschoolers goldfish crackers or Cheerios, and place them in groups of 4, 5, 6, etc., and ask him/her to count them. Then write the numbers on a piece of paper, and place the paper next to the correct group to reinforce the written number.
- When reading to your preschooler, count birds on the page, tractors on the page, butterflies on the page, etc. And occasionally ask your preschooler "What page are we reading?" and show him/her the page number at the bottom of the book.
- When you're grocery shopping, ask him/her to "put 3 cans of green beans in the cart" or "how many rolls of toilet paper are in that package?"