Math is everywhere and yet
we may not recognize it because it doesn’t look like the math we did
in school. Math in the world around us sometimes seems invisible. But
math is present in our world all the time – in the workplace, in our
homes, and in life in general.
You Can Do It!
If you feel uncomfortable about math, here are some ideas to think about.
Math is a very important skill, one
which we will all need for the future in our technological world.
It is important for you to encourage your children to think of
themselves as mathematicians who can reason and solve problems.
Math is a subject for all people. Math
is not a subject that men can do better than women. Males and
females have equally strong potential in math.
Positive attitudes about math
are important for our country. The United States is the only
advanced industrial nation where people are quick to admit that
“I am not good in math.” We need to change this attitude, because
mathematicians are a key to our future.
You may have noticed that we
are talking about “mathematics” – the subject that incorporates
numbers, shapes, patterns, estimation, and measurement, and the
concepts that relate to them. You probably remember studying
“arithmetic” – adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing –
when you were in elementary school. Now, children are starting
right away to learn about the broad ideas associated with math,
including problem solving, communicating mathematically, and
Just by doing everyday things together
such as sorting socks on laundry day, cooking with measuring and
pouring or playing games or singing songs with actions and
directions with rules and taking turns will help your child learn
to count and understand a range of mathematical ideas.
“Mathematical foundations are laid as
playmates create streets and buildings in the sand or make play
houses with empty boxes. Mathematical ideas grow as children count
steps across the room or sort collections of rocks and other
treasures. They learn mathematical concepts through everyday activities:
sorting (putting toys or groceries away), reasoning (comparing and
building with blocks), representing (drawing to record ideas),
recognizing patterns (talking about daily routines, repeating
nursery rhymes, and reading predictable books), following
directions (singing motion songs such as ?Hokey Pokey’), and using
spatial visualization (working puzzles). Using objects, role-playing,
drawing, and counting, children show what they know.”
Below are three activities that
provide opportunities for your child to experiment with
measurement, sort and count items by different attributes, and learn
to recognize coins.
FILL IT UP (Activity #1)
Children enjoy exploring measurement
and estimation. Empty containers can provide opportunities to explore
comparisons, measurement, estimation, and geometry.
What You’ll Need
• Empty containers in different shapes (yogurt cups, margarine tubs, juice boxes with tops cut off, pie tins)
• Rice, popcorn kernels, or water or sand
• Masking tape
What to do
1. Have your child choose an
empty container each day and label it for the day by writing the
day on a piece of masking tape and sticking it on the container.
2. Discover which containers hold more than, less than, or the same as the container chosen for that day by:
• filling the day’s container with water, uncooked rice, or popcorn kernels; and
• pouring the substance from that container into another one.
Is the container full, not full, or overflowing? Ask your
child, “Does this mean the second container holds more than the
first, less, or the same?”
3. Ask your child questions to encourage comparison, estimation, and thinking about measurement.
4. Put all the containers that
hold more in one spot, those that hold less in another, and those
that hold the same in yet another. Label the areas “more” “less” and
5. After the containers have been
sorted, ask, “Do we have more containers that hold more, hold
less, or hold the same? How many containers are in each
NAME THAT COIN (Activity #2)
Children love to look at coins but sometimes cannot identify the coins or determine their value.
What You’ll Need
What to Do
1. Look at the coins and talk about what color they are, the pictures on them, and what they are worth.
2. Put a penny, nickel, and dime on the floor or table.
3. Tell your child that you are thinking of a coin.
4. Give your child hints to
figure out which coin you are thinking of. For example, “My coin
has a man on one side, a building on the other.”
5. Let your child think about what you have sad by looking at the coins.
6. Ask, “Can you make a guess?
7. Add another clue: “My coin is silver.”
8. Keep giving clues until your child guesses the coin.
9. Add the quarter to the coins on the table and continue the game.
10. Have your child give you clues for you to guess the coin.
TREASURE HUNT (Activity #3)
Everyone’s house has hidden treasures. There is a lot of math you and your child can do with them.
What You’ll Need
Or anything else you can count
What To Do
1. Find a container to hold the treasures.
2. Sort and classify the treasures. For example, do you have all the
same sized screws or keys? How are they alike? How are they
3. Organize the treasures by one characteristic and lay them end-to-end. Talk about their characteristics.
Math books for children:
Almost every book you read with
your child will offer the opportunity to talk about math, because
math is everywhere. Some books lend themselves more to
in-depth and specific math discussion. Only a fraction of these
books could be listed here.
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Counting Book. Thomas Y. Crowell.
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Counting House. Philomel Books.
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Hat Trick. Philomel Books.
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Math Games. Philomel Books.
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar. Philomel Books.
Carle, Eric. The Grouchy Ladybug. Philomel Books.
Carle, Eric. 1,2,3 to the Zoo. Philomel Books. Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel Books.
Carter, David. How Many Bugs in a Box? Simon and Schuster.
Cobb, Vicki and Kathy Darling. Bet You Can. Avon.
Conran, Sebastian. My First 123 Book. Aladdin Books.
Daly, Eileen. 1 Is Red. Western.
Dee, Ruby. Two Ways to Count to Ten. Holt.
Demi. Demi's Count the Animals' 123. Grosset and Dunlap.
Feelings, Muriel. Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book. Dial.
Grayson, Marion. Let's Count. Robert B. Luce, Inc.
Grayson, Marion. Count Out. Robert B. Luce, Inc.
Hoban, Tana. Circles, Triangles, and Squares. MacMillan Publishing Company, Inc.
Hoban, Tana. Count and See. Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc.
Hoban, Tana. Is It Rough, Is It Smooth, Is It Bumpy? Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc.
Hudson, Cheryl. AfrD"'Bets 123 Book. Just Us Productions.
Hutchins, Pat. 11w Doorbell Rang. Greenwillow Books.
Hutchins, Pat. One Hunter. Greenwillow Books.
Jones, Carol. This Old Man. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Keats, Ezra Jack Over in the Meadow. Scholastic.
Kitchen, Bert. Animal Numbers. Dial.
Kredenser, Gail. One Dancing Drum. Phillips.
Lionni, Leo. Numbers To Talk About. Pantheon Books.
Marley, Deborah. Animals One to Ten. Raintree.
McMillan, Bruce. Counting Wildflowers. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, Inc.
McMillan, Bruce. One, Two, One Pair. Scholastic.
Nolan, Dennis. Monster Bubbles. Prentice Hall.
Pluckrose, Henry. Know about Counting. Franklin Watts.
Pomerantz, Charlotte. The Half-Birthday Party. Clarion Books.
Ross, H.L. Not Counting Monsters. Platt and Munk.
Schwartz, David M. How Much Is a Million? Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, Inc.
Schwartz, David M. If You Made a Million. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, Inc.
Tafuri, Nancy. Who's Counting? William Morrow &Co.
Testa, Fulvio. If You Take a Pencil. Dial.
Viorst, Judith. Alexander Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday. Atheneum.
Vogel, Ilse-Margret. 1 Is No Fun, But 20 Is Plenty! Atheneum.
Ziefert, Harriet. A Dozen Dizzy Dogs. Random House.
(Activities and Booklists) from
Helping Your Child Learn Math by Patsy F. Kauter, U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement)