Math Language

Math Language

Location: indoor and outdoor

Materials: none, just the words you use

One way to intentionally bring math into all areas of the classroom is to think about the language you are using with your children. For young children, especially 3 years and under, math is much less about numbers and counting, and much more about building understanding around the language and concepts of math. For example:

  • Make quantity comparisons-- more, less, equal, the same. This can happen at meal times when serving food, in the block area when comparing number of blocks, or when on a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Make size comparisons-- bigger, smaller, taller, tallest, shorter, shortest. Compare the sizes of things and put them in order. This could be a formal game at circle time, or just a passing conversation about trees in the yard.
  • Talk about shapes-- recognizing shapes and identifying differences in their forms is a pre-reading skill. If a child cannot differentiate the differences between shapes, it will be very hard to differentiate between letters down the road. For example, say, "I see a triangle that has three sides and three points" or "I see a square that has four sides that are the same length and four corners."
  • Talk about volume-- when kids are pouring sand or water between containers, talk about how much fits inside. Containers might be different shapes, but hold the same amount of water or sand.
  • Model counting-- counting without one-to-one correspondence is just memorization. The goal for counting is to understand that the number they are saying represents how many items there are. When you count objects together make a point to go slow and show that one object equals one number, and that the final number represents how many there are all together. For example, slowly count a few blocks, pointing to each as you go, and then finish by saying "How many? There are five blocks" and mime counting again.

What We're Learning

  • pre-math skills
  • language and communication
  • spatial reasoning