November 2019 Newsletter – Early Mathematics, Much More than Counting


Young children actively engage in exploring math concepts as early as infancy. Research conducted by Elizabeth Spelke at the Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies demonstrates that children as young as six months can distinguish quantities as they observe objects around them. Some studies suggest that even newborns have number sense ( As children engage with the world around them, they experiment with number, shape, size, sequence, comparisons, patterning and other concepts fundamental to mathematical understanding. Children at Sunshine Academy engage in math activities daily in their classrooms. Below are activities that you can do at home, too, to engage your children in math and support their cognitive development.

   Cooking: Children can measure ingredients, count slices, estimate half a cup, divide a pizza among family members, make predictions about how many cookies or muffins a bowl of batter will make, and best of all, taste the results of their work.

   Music is filled with patterns and counting. Singing with your child and playing rhythm games (clapping, drums, maracas) helps your child feel and hear number sense and patterns.

   I Spy (a rectangular sign, a traffic cone, the number 2, parallel lines, a big truck next to a small truck) is a fun game to play while traveling in the car.

   How Many Steps? is a game you can play as you walk anywhere.  Children make predictions about how many steps will get them to their destination and then test their predictions as they count.

   Water or Sand Play enables children to explore volume, shape, number, conservancy and many other concepts. Adding containers of different sizes and shapes to your child’s bath is an easy way to encourage their explorations. You can also ask questions such as “Which container do you think will hold more water?” and “How many scoops do you think it will take to fill the bucket?”

   Stringing Beads (or cereal or noodles) enables children to explore patterns, length and number. You can help by playing with your child and taking photos of patterns they make. Children often repeat patterns and add complexity as they play.

   Block Play enables children to explore size, shape, weight, comparison, three-dimensional relations, and patterns. You can support your child’s learning by providing different types of blocks of sufficient quantities to inspire them to build. You can also ask questions about your child’s structures to extend their thinking such as “What do you think will happen with that big block on top?” “How fast can a ball roll down that slope?” or “Are you as tall as your tower?”

   For additional ideas, see or ask your child’s teachers.

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