The latest news, views and reviews for Australia's child care industry. June 11, 2013
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Building maths into your daily program

MathsIn the same way that reading to children every day from a very young age promotes early literacy, building math based activities into your daily schedule can instil in children an interest, and sometimes even passion, for mathematics in later life.

This imaginative list of simple and inexpensive ideas for making math a part of everyday life was put together by Deborah J Stewart who runs the Teach Preschool blog.

Cooking presents a wide range of opportunities to promote mathematical thinking including measuring, weighing, counting, and estimating.

Cooking also provides ample opportunity to use mathematical terms through casual conversation. "We are going to need two eggs." or "The recipe tells us we need to measure out one cup of milk."

Cooking is an inviting, fun, hands-on approach to building math skills. The greater role children can take in the cooking process, the more they will be able to put into practice basic mathematical thinking and skills.

Patterns are all around us and it doesn’t take long for young children to begin to recognise patterns in their everyday world. You can use everyday materials like crayons, blocks, cars, beads and paper to create patterns. You can also make action patterns by doing actions such as clapping a rhythm or lining up in an AB pattern (stand-sit, boy-girl).

Exploring Shapes
Building our ability to recognize and form geometrical shapes and designs is another great way to create everyday maths experiences.

There are shapes everywhere in the real world. Learning to recognise and identify simple shapes then having the opportunity to manipulate those shapes helps children to understand the structure and design of our world.

Opportunities to work with shapes can be found in all areas of our classroom and as children play with the materials in a classroom they are able to explore how shapes fit together to create buildings, cars, houses, and other items that have meaning to them.

Counting objects in large groups and individually is helpful. You can count anything from the number of children, to the number of claps, to books, crayons/paints being used for an activity, letters in names and so on.

Math Games
Getting children’s whole bodies into the math process helps to reinforce basic math skills. You could toss a large dice to tell you how many steps, hops, or squares to go. You could create games indoors and outdoors that invite mathematical thinking and large motor movement.

Estimating is another fun way to familiarise children with numbers. Children can take a guess at how many items are in a pile before you count them all together.

Comparing and Contrasting
Use everyday materials such as books, shoes, blocks and toys to compare size, colour, purpose and so on.

Just about everything in a classroom can be sorted. You can sort by colour, texture, size and type. A key part of building strong math skills is developing the ability to sort and organise materials so they can be easily counted, categorised, divided, and added. Sorting promotes children’s ability to organise the items in their world so they make sense and are manageable.

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