A few years ago I had a preschooler.  Today…she’s almost as tall as me at nearly 10 years old!  My, has time flown! Today, nearly 6 years later, I’d like to explore the good times we had learning preschool math together.

Tips for teaching preschool math with passion and fun!

Reminiscing, I’m so happy to have had the privilege to work with my  4 year old who so quickly entered the magic of kinder. I love working with young kiddos when they’re being introduced to math for the first time!

Fun with preschool math?

In the preschool stage, they’re still at that place mentally where math is not a dirty word yet, and they are pretty open to learning new concepts.  Truth be told, preschool math can and should be fun!

You don’t have to labor at it and you don’t need expensive textbooks to teach math to your preschooler.  A few worksheets, fun workbooks, or ideas from Pinterest can get your creative juices flowing!

We bought a few math workbooks from Cotsco and even purchased the Math U See curriculum- which we love– but there’s nothing like bringing in some extra lovin’, practical, and hands-on fun when introducing numbers to our little ones.Here are a few ideas of manipulatives and games we used years ago to make learning math fun for the preschool years.For you visual folks, you might also enjoy my video from a few years’ back.  Boy, do I miss those days!

Counting Chips

These circular chips come in sets of different colors, which makes it easy to form all sorts of activities and games to do with them.

preschool math with counting chips

My method varied on these games.  Sometimes I would line up two different colors of chips (say, orange and yellow) side by side, ten in each row, and I have my daughter count each row separately (equaling 10).

Then I might have her total them (equaling 20).

Lastly, I would teach her to skip count by 2’s. Somehow it seems to make more visual sense to her when using two different colors of manipulatives.

Another fun thing to do with these chips is to create geometric shapes with them.  With many circular chips we can form a brand new circle, a triangle, or a square.

So now we’ve taught geometry and basic math skills with one set of manipulatives.

Building Blocks

Research shows that block play is beneficial to children. It helps with hand-eye coordination, spacial skills, creative thinking, social skills, and language skills.  Why not integrate block play into learning mathematics?

With blocks, you can continue with the concepts of geometry (building a triangle, square, or rectangle).  I especially like the geometric blocks that allow kids to create shapes from half circles, triangles, and rectangles.

Using a half circle, my daughter learned that two halves make a whole.  Placing two small triangle blocks together, she creates a square.

preschool math building blocks

 One reason we enjoyed the Math U See curriculum so much was the power of hands-on and visual learning that Mr. Demme presents in each lesson.  If your child isn’t ready for a complete program such as Math U See, I highly recommend finding block  manipulatives (and other types) during the preschool/kinder years to help teach mathematical concepts.

Manipulatives with Flash Cards

We like to use wooden logs (like Lincoln logs), pom pom craft balls, coins, as well as other types of manipulatives to learn our basic preschool math skills.  We also print, laminate, and cut out shapes for manipulatives.  If we pair these up with flash cards, we have an even more potent math lesson.

preschool math counting logs

Placing an addition flash card beside a set of manipulatives and asking my child to construct “1 plus 2” means that she not only sees the addition problem visually on the card, but she now must also translate the problem with her wooden logs.

She would set out one log on the right, and two on the left. I would have her say “1 plus 2.” Then I’d ask her to smoosh them together and say “equals 3!”

This is a kinesthetic, visual and auditory way to help preschoolers make math concepts like addition and subtraction tangible.

Counting Bears

Counting bears come in a pack with sets of different colors and matching cups for each set. I can’t remember exactly where I picked mine up from, but I’m thinking it was either Walmart or Target.  And, of course, you can always pick up a set from Amazon.

There are a so many different ways to use these bears in preschool math lessons.

preschool math counting bears 2

Usually I would have my daughter sort the bears into their matching colored cups at first, and then we would name the colors. Next, we might count the number of bears per color category. (I swapped some out so the numbers vary for each color).  We practice counting totals.


preschool math counting bears

Lastly, we begin learning to add and subtract with the bears. (Again, I swapped out some bears from one group and added to another and had her recount the sets).

Ready to begin your preschool math fun?

So, there you have it!

Math had soon become a fun pastime in our home, and we always looked forward to preschool math games together.  When a “subject” doesn’t feel like a subject, when it doesn’t feel like work, and when it feels like fun and freedom, your kids want more of it.

I hope these few preschool math ideas are helpful.

Enjoy counting with your kids! And be sure to share your own fun math ideas with us.

As always, I would love to hear from you. 

About Demetria Zinga

Demetria is a homeschooling mom and "mompreneur" who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, two daughters, and a Shih-Tzu. She currently runs two podcasts for moms, blogs, writes music, and spends lots of time at coffee shops. Her goal is to be an encourager and motivator of women, helping them to find success and joy in homeschooling, business, and motherhood.

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