In order to be a successful scientist, a person should have a handle on math, which is why I sometimes highlight it on this blog.
I took J to the park last night and while we were playing, he counted to forty! I was plenty impressed. It's never too early to highlight numbers.
Some fun ways to incorporate numbers into your daily routine:
- Have a contest (prize or not): who can count the highest, the fastest, etc. without missing a number? - This is good with siblings.
- Prompt your child to count when they are bored/antsy. It gets their mind on something else and might give you a few minutes to think of something to do with them.
- Start flashcards. Little kids might not know what multiplication means, but they can recognize the numbers. You can create your own with some index cards (which are cheap due to current back-to-school sales). We got our particular set during a nerdy themed baby shower I had for J on Pi Day 2009, and I've been too busy to make my own simpler ones.
- Negotiate. We have a picky eater (though he's nothing compared to how picky I was - sorry, Mom). I'm also in the mindset that Americans overeat. I don't want to get it in J's head that he has to eat everything on his plate, but he has to have some of everything, especially the healthier stuff. A common conversation at our dinner table, "Have 3-5 more bites of X before you can have 1-2 bites/sips of Y." This is a great place to introduce early subtraction. "You ate 2 bites. Good job. How many more do you have left to get to 3 bites?"
- Count money/coins.
- Highlight a number a day for small numbers or week for larger numbers. Have something you do that many times per day/week. For example, on 3 day, maybe you get 3 glasses of milk during the day, 3 fun things the kids can pick out to do, 3 books to read at night, etc. Find numbers in magazines and paste them up on the wall/fridge (#s or objects with the amount of the number).
- Have your child set the table. How many plates, napkins, cups, silverware do you need for everyone to get 1 plate, 1 napkin (some especially messy people get 2), 1 cup, 1 fork, 1 spoon, and adults get 1 knife?
- Play with a candy you don't mind your child eating on special occasions (like counting!). We choose M&Ms. Fun for nerdy parents would be introducing your kids to graphs after counting!
- Create your own number puzzles (we use In N Out stickers since it's nearby and we go once every few weeks). Print out a picture, draw a grid on it, number the grid, cut it up, put pieces in a bag/box, shake it up. Have a blank piece of paper with the numbers for little kids to use to match the pieces. I love these things since this is the only time I've seen J sit still and focused for a more than 5 minutes.
- Connect the dots. There are plenty of apps and online print and play connect the dots to keep your little one counting while developing fine motor skills.
- Play the greater than/less than game. For example, J has 3 carrots and mommy has 1. Who has more? How can you make them equal?