9 Ways to Encourage Math Play

pizza-fractions-mathemania

Kids learn the basics of fractions with the aid of our giant pizza pie in Fraction Action Pizza.

It’s Mathemania here at Chicago Children’s Museum. Throughout March and April, we’re featuring daily activities calculated to inspire a love of math in every child. Kids will send shapes soaring through the air, measure, mix, and make their own play dough, divide up a giant pizza, and more. This hands-on math play encourages a child’s natural curiosity about early math concepts, which begins building a foundation of math skills kids need.

You can get your child excited for a day of math play at Chicago Children’s Museum by starting with some simple activities at home. Here’s how:

START EARLY

Babies are learning math from the time they start exploring their fingers, toes and environment. Even in the first few months, babies can tell the difference between a few  (1 or 2) and many (7 or 8).

SORT IT OUT

Life is full of opportunities to categorize and organize. Invite your child to help you fill up the toy bins and other de-cluttering tasks. Play a game of matching socks.

PATTERNS ARE POWERFUL

Children recognize sequences through daily routines, groupings of familiar objects and playing games.

SPATIAL AWARENESS IS KEY

Completing puzzles, building with blocks or drawing a map of the houses on your street are activities that enhance children’s understanding of spatial relationships.

PLAY GAMES TOGETHER

Try Chutes and Ladders, hopscotch, Bingo, Go Fish—any game that involves counting, moving spaces and comparing.

CONNECT NUMBERS TO REALITY

Children often learn to count by rote. Touching or moving the items as they count helps them understand what the numbers mean.

FOCUS ON PROCESS

The right answer is not as important as understanding how you got there. Encourage children to explain their logic.

ASSOCIATE MATH WITH FUN

Calling out the math in favorite books and games creates a pleasurable association to math for your child.

BIASES CAN BE SUBTLE

Take care not to pass along any “math anxiety” you might have developed as a child. Avoid making gender-based assumptions regarding children’s interests or abilities in math.

funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

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