Enjoying the beautiful Fall weather? Turn outside time with your preschooler into a chance to reinforce what your child is learning at Kids Konnect Preschool. Studies show that parents who give positive messages about math can help their children achieve. One way to help your child feel interested in and confident about math is to do family activities that teach math concepts. Here are some counting activities to explore outside this Fall:
Counting Steps: Going up a stairway? Taking a hike down a trail? Have your child count the steps they need to take or the number of stairs. Make it even more fun by estimating how many steps first. You can even make it a contest to guess how many steps from one tree to another, or from the playground slide to the swings.
Counting Sets of Leaves: While the Bay area doesn't have as much Fall color as other parts of the country, you and your child should be able to find some fallen leaves of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Learning the base-ten number system is a core understanding for much of elementary mathematics, so use the leaves to teach your child to count by 10s. Have your child count the leaves as they gather them, then pour the leaves out on the ground and count them out in piles of ten. Your preschooler might like to sort and count the leaves by color, shape or size too.
Estimating before Counting: Another core math concept is estimating the answer. Help your child get better at estimating by having them guess the number before counting. Here are some estimating ideas:
- Gather acorns or pinecones in your hand or a small basket. Guess how many you have and then count to see how close your estimate was. Repeat with a different group of acorns, or something else you gather on your walk.
- Going for a walk around the block? Guess how many houses you will pass, and then count them as you walk.
- Go to a park or playground and guess how many steps it takes to walk all around the sandbox area, the swings area, or the picnic tables.
- Packing a picnic to eat outside? Put grapes, chips or crackers in small containers. Guess how many are in the container before you count and eat.
By doing estimating and counting every day, you will help your child understand and picture the difference between 5 and 50 and help them make more reasonable and accurate guesses. Have even more fun by making it a contest to see which of you can guess the closest!
Count and Sort: Preschoolers love to sort objects into different groups. Even more importantly, learning to sort and count is an important mathematical concept. Take advantage of their interest by gathering a variety of objects from nature or trash items during your walk. When you get to your destination, dump out the objects and sort them into piles that you can count. The best part about this activity is that you can do it over again by sorting in a different way. For example, you can sort the same group of items into:
- Groups of different colors.
- Big, medium and small.
- Long, medium and short.
- Things that are round and things that are not round.
- What can be eaten and what can't be eaten.
- Things they'd like to save and things they want to throw away.
Encourage creativity by letting your child sort the objects into groups and then letting you guess the names of the groups. Then you sort and your preschooler guess!
Counting Nature: Use your Fall time outside to examine how living things are constructed on mathematical principles. As you look at natural objects, help your child notice the patterns and symmetry of nature. Here are some counting ideas:
- Leaves: Find a variety of types of leaves and count how many sides they have or how many veins they have.
- Spiderwebs: Find a spider web and count the sides. You might even be able to count the number of spaces inside the web. To make a permanent spider web you can count, spray the web with non-toxic white enamel spray and press it to dark construction paper.
- Flowers: count the petals on a flower, or the number of leaves on a stem.
- Seeds: count the seed in a pod, acorns under a tree, or kernels on Indian corn.
Make Counting Part of Every Day
Whether your preschooler is still learning to count from 1-10 or ready to learn to count by 10s, you can encourage them by making counting a part of everything you do this fall. What Fall counting activity do you think you will do with your preschooler?