There are so many things that are important for children to learn in preschool, but the thing that I believe is THE most important thing, is that learning is FUN! I want my kiddos to leave me knowing that it is fun to learn, so they will become self directed, life long learners.
One of the ways I foster a love of learning, is by letting the children play to learn. We have a lot of free play time, and an abundance of toys to choose from. Just because the children are playing, doesn't mean I'm not teaching too. One of my roles as an early childhood teacher is to facilitate learning, to create situations in which children can play and learn all at once.
This post is about some of our mathematical learning, how I create an environment in which children love to play and learn. You can read my earlier blog about this, Developing Mathematical Thinking, here.
After lunch most days, I set out some math games for the kiddos to choose from. During this time the teachers are cleaning up from lunch, making sure everyone has a turn in the restroom, and supervising math play. It's a busy time, but just right for the children to come and go from the math activities that are set out for them to choose from.
here. (No, I don't have any affiliation with any retailers, and won't get a cut, but if you like the toy, it's nice to know what it is and where you might find it.)
These magnets have been around a long time, so I can't tell you where they're from.
Here is an activity with dollar store and upcycled parts. The sorting tray originally came with cookies or something on it, and I saved it. The baby themed items came from the dollar store, this is about $8 worth of colorful manipulatives. Sometimes the children sort by color, other times by the shape. The clear lidded container I keep them in is also a reused food container.
Math is all around us, all the time, we just have to stop and notice. Children love to 'play' with fun themed items (always supervise, especially children who still put things in their mouths). They can sort by different attributes (color, size, shape) and make patterns. They can manipulate shapes to see how they fit together, read dots on dice or dominoes, and look for ways things are the same and different. Did I mention counting?
I hope you will look for fun ways to incorporate math into your child's play times!