Recently, both of my children, aged approximately 4 and 2, have been showing a lot of interest in mathematics. It is a great time for us to let them expand their knowledge and skills in some maths that they will benefit from now, and later. Miss Junior can count to five (well, almost- but it is not her fault. The number four is the naughty one, never stays still. So, it is generally 1, 2, 3 and 5).
As for Mr. Junior, I have decided to introduce some addition and subtraction as he has shown some signs that he is ready to move onto that level, happily. We often do implicit teaching rather than explicit teaching as they both enjoy communicating with us and during our daily chats, there are endless number of opportunities to do so. They are quite verbal, involved in daily family activities and have curious minds, like most other children in their age groups. We only pay some attention to their signs and take it from there.
A few weeks ago, I had a great time doing some maths with especially Mr. Junior while we were all in their play room playing with some toys and cards. We used Mr. Junior's much loved trains, cars and trucks most of the time but we also used some other things that they both are familiar with or love such as fruit. (Both of my children are also known as 'fruit monsters' and everything looks and feels better to them when there is some fresh fruit is involved. Why not using it for some maths?)
What you can teach them using your everyday materials is endless. You are pretty much your own limit. However, if you need some quick and simple ideas, here are a few that I used with my 4 year old son, Mr. Junior, for you:
1. There are 4 carriages attached to your yellow train. Each carriage takes 2 children. How many children can the yellow train carry in total?
2. You have 4 tennis balls. I have 1. Your sister has 2. We all give our tennis balls to Daddy. How many tennis balls does Daddy have?
3. There are some cars in these boxes. There are 3 in the yellow box, 1 in the blue, 5 in the green and zero in the white. How many cars does it make altogether?
4. You used to have 7 cars. The other day, your aunty came over and gave you these 3 cars. The next day, your grandfather gave you these 2. How many cars do you have now?
5. You have 6 cars here. Your sister took (stole!) 2 away. How many cars do you have now?
6. Here are 9 of your socks. 3 of them are matching/have a pair. How many of them don't have a pair/have lost their pairs?
7. I need 2 pegs for this t-shirt, 1 peg for this sock, 2 pegs for your sister's top and 3 pegs for this towel. How many pegs do I need in total?
8. I am a shop keeper and you are a customer. You came to my shop to buy some nectarines. You want to buy 3 nectarines. Each one costs $2 (each card in the picture represents a dollar). How much do you need to buy 3 nectarines?
*At this stage, Miss Junior was just helping herself :-)
These are only some examples. Please also note that they are relevant to us and that is why we used those particular examples. At his age, it is important to use solid materials rather than doing some abstract calculations. We used real materials and often pointed to a relevant item whenever applicable. He also used his fingers as an aid in his calculations when needed. I think it was a successful activity as he was keen from the beginning to the end and asked for more the next morning.
Teach someone something useful today!