You rightfully fear the summer vacation academic brain drain, but did you ever consider that the winter break also derails your kindergartner’s budding math skills? Five math activities encourage daily application of math principles for fun and learning.
Read Stories with Mathematical Content
My kindergartner adores “Ten Apples Up on Top” and “Seaweed Soup.” Even regular picture-books books can pinch-hit; the child can count the seven dwarfs, the number of oatmeal cans in Sesame Street’s kitchen or the sheep depicted on a page. Compare and contrast the number of sheep (butterflies, goats, clouds…) on one page and then the next. Follow this advice, and you combine math with reading!
When I introduced my kindergartner to the intricate rules of Parcheesi, I worried that she might have a hard time catching on. While it took a couple of tries, she mastered the game quickly. The mathematical benefits of the game are numerous. Counting the rolls of the dice and adding up the numbers, walking the 20 bonus spaces after vanquishing an opposing pawn, splitting rolls between pawns and practicing the exact count to get home are just some of the mathematical feats the kindergartner undertakes.
No, do not opt for the ready-made dough shapes you just transfer from the package to the cookie sheet. Instead, get out the measuring cups and spoons, flour, chocolate chips, sugar and other ingredients. It will be messy, but it is well worth the effort. Let the child measure all the ingredients, add and subtract as needed, and also help with counting up until the oven reaches the temperature, and down as the timer shows that the cookies near completion.
Use real paper money and coins. Teaching kindergartners to recognize and properly value coins comes in handy when the second grade teacher starts the lesson on currency. Practice counting forward and backward, making change and counting quantities of goods. Do not worry if you do not have a ready-made play store; I have used empty cereal boxes, walnuts, rocks, marbles and leftover Halloween candy for this winter break game. Using your own items allows you to adjust the numbers of items for sale, which in turn makes it possible to stretch the kindergartner’s counting abilities.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Take a clue from the “12 Days of Christmas” song and set up a holiday-themed scavenger hunt. While you might not be looking for three French hens or 11 pipers piping, you might be looking for five snowmen, six candy canes or seven Christmas wreaths. Walk around the neighborhood and look at the beautiful decorations; in the process, have the children keep their eyes open for the items you have named, make a mark next to the ones they find, and occasionally tally how many items they have found. Exercise plus math – you cannot lose!
Who knew that math could be so much fun? Best of all, your kindergartner won’t even know that she is learning!