Recently while helping out in a first grade classroom, I learned some tips to pass on to you. This can be done with 3-8 year olds (depending on what has already been learned). Many of you probably already do something similar (or have done something similar) with your own kids. At the morning rug time which lasts 30-45 minutes, the teacher goes through a calendar routine. During this time period several math and language arts events occur daily. A list of the names of the month is posted next to the calendar. The helper leads the class in stating the names of each month. Then the students state the days of the week, with the helper pointing to each on the calendar. Finally, the days of the month are counted…up to the current day. Next to the calendar are sentences that are changed each day. The sentences read: Today is _____________. Yesterday was_______________. Tomorrow will be__________. And the days of the week are used to fill in the blanks. Next to this are baggies that hang below the words tens and ones. A coffee straw is put in the ones bag for each day. Once ten straws are in the ones bag, a rubber band is put around them and they are placed in the tens bag. This is done according to the days of the school year. For example, on day 42 of the school year, the helper will add a one to the ones bag. Then the helper will hold up the groups of tens and the students will count the tens…10..20..30..40. Then the students count the ones…forty-one, forty-two. Finally, the teacher writes the words for the number on an index card that she flips each day. The number 42 would then be added to the hundreds chart and the students will count from one to that number. Sometimes they will also count the chart by fives, tens, etc. Following this, the weather graph is filled in for the weather of the day, then the teacher flips through sight word cards, number cards, and dot cards that teach number concept recognition.
Here is a website that has a lot of practical math practice activities for the early years: http://www.pbs.org/parents/earlymath/
Algebra for Toddlers?
The following website offers great tips for teaching algebraic concepts to toddlers. For the most part, the preschool years should just be a time of much observation and exploration and fun. However, if you have a child who enjoys doing school, there are some math concepts that you can be intentional about. In her article, Jennifer Taylor-Cox discusses the following concepts: balance, variables, quantitative relationships, patterns, qualitative, change, etc. She teaches parents to challenge kids incrementally.
Here is an additional math based website that offers developmental stages for learning math concepts: http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/two/mathematics.html