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Help Math Come Naturally: Finding Lessons Outside

by Makinya Ward on May 12, 2016
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One trait every parent of preschool age children notices very quickly is a child’s attraction to nature. No matter where your family is, your little explorer will find an insect, flower or shiny rock to ponder. At Kids Konnect we recognize and value this strong connection between nature and curiosity. We channel it to provide rich, meaningful language and math lessons in all our preschool age investigators.

shutterstock_267568619.jpgNatural Knowledge

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) points out that preschool age children arrive at preschool already knowledgeable about the natural world. They see (perhaps without fully comprehending meaning) genetics at work in different eye color, calves born from cows, animate objects distinct from inanimate ones, and patterns everywhere.

Build on that knowledge by helping them explore methodically. If your daughter likes shiny rocks, together collect 30 shiny rocks and put them in an ordered array 10 rocks wide by three rows deep. She can arrange them by size, color, shininess or whatever way she describes. Practice counting the rocks together (start with one to 10 repeated three times until she can handle larger numbers).

Nature Walk

Taking a walk in the woods, at the beach, or in a field is a great opportunity to find patterns, says the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Patterns are the cornerstone of mathematics, and the natural world is full of them. Obvious natural patterns appear in:

  • animal coloration
  • leaf veins
  • bees’ honeycombs
  • bird feathers
  • sunflower heads

Subtle patterns occur in spider webs, clouds, seashells and the branching of trees and bushes. With today’s ever-present smartphones, help your child catalog the patterns, print the pictures and make a little scrapbook of the day’s adventures.

Hip Deep

While nature walks and counting collections can be everyday math activities for preschool age children, vacations offer wonderful opportunities to immerse your child in nature and math. The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) suggests that parents get their children out into the bog, marsh, beach and field to get up close to nature. This stimulates early learning in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—and helps children build up a reservoir of background knowledge. Keep rain boots, a parka and extra clothes on hand for these vacation explorations.

Kids Konnect would like to hear how you have gotten your preschool age child to make connections between nature and math. Please leave a comment below.