The kids are always into the holidays! Take advantage of their hyper-focus on holiday fun by including it into your lessons! Counting and sorting candy hearts is a great math activity. We also let them fill in a graph with how many hearts of each color were in their individual bags. This activity also encourages sensory development with both the feel and the smell of the candy hearts (and it’s up to you as the teacher if they will be tasting those hearts!).
Making up stories is always a favorite with children! I have done this many times, and had great success! I especially like stories of pretend adventures in the jungle as we walk from place to place. Today, Susan, the head teacher, made up a fun story during our math lesson. Instead of just counting out pom poms and sorting them, she told a story of friends joining other friends in the play ground. Some playing in the sandbox, some at the swings, and a group on bikes. It wasn’t always easy for the kids to keep the piles separate or combine here and there. But it was great cognitive exercise. Once she knew we had the right number of friends(pom-poms) in our piles (today that was 17), she had them “line up” the friends to go get ice cream! We counted them to make sure none were left behind. After ice cream, she had them divide the friends into two teams to play soccer. In order to do that, they had to pair up the friends to make sure there was an even number. When the kids discovered that it wasn’t even, one child had the great idea of making the last friend the “coach”! This fit well into our unit, which at this time is community helpers!
So, as you can see, making up a story along with a math lesson not only makes it more entertaining for the kids; it also holds their attention longer, and it gives opportunitiy to include other aspects of learning. Such as our community helper unit, and the social learning of including others.
Doing math with any kind of toy collection is a lot of fun for preschool! In this example the children are using Lego blocks! First they get a few minutes to just explore and play with the Legos. Then we have them sort into piles, perhaps according to color. Finally, they count out a certain number of blocks-usually whatever number we are working on. From there we can explore in many more ways! For example, we have the children figure out if the number is even or odd by placing the blocks in pairs. We may even organize in groups of three. We see what we can build with it, we count and sort it.
Here is another favorite toy collection we use: little plastic toy bears. In this pic they are sorted into pairs to see if there is an “odd man out”.
Colored Pasta! This is similar to the colored rice. (Rice does take on the colors better, since it’s white, but the pasta is a lot of fun with the different shapes). Be sure to pick out different shapes and sizes for your pasta. Then decide if you want to keep the shape groups the same colors, or mix the shapes up and color them all differently. In this example, we mixed all the shapes together first, and then colored them into 5 different colors. (I like both ways, but this way does add a demention for a sorting project. You can now sort by color, by shape, and by both color and shape together!)
Use this pasta for multiple purposes:
Stringing pasta necklaces, sorting for math, gluing to a picture for a colage or other art project, and of course, placing into a sensory table!
To color, place desired amount of pasta into a large sealable bag. Mix about 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol with food coloring of choice. Place the mixture into the bag with the pasta, and let all the kids help shake and mix the bag. Let the pasta sit for a couple hours to absorb the color. Then empty the bags onto some trays lined with paper towels. Let the pasta dry overnight.
This is where Math and Creative-Thinking really come into play! The children started with one rubber band streched into a line shape. But when they were given the freedom to move that line around to make other shapes, their enjoyment streched and grew right a long with it! I was surprised to see how much they got into it. We did this activity as a group, but also left out a few on a table as part of a “center” during play time.
A Geoboard like this can be found in online stores, like amazon, or at educational specialty stores. Really, any kind of peg board would work!
The teacher I currently work with does a “question of the day” that I just love! It brings up many areas of learning in literacy and math and critical thinking.
The question should contain letters you are currently working on, and it should be a “yes/no” question.
This example is for the letter “P”.
Circle how many P’s you can find. Count them. Answer the question is name sticks (name recognition) and talk about the results. Which has more or less? Yes or no? Is there a tie?