Teaching Math to Kindergarteners

Susie McGee
colorful abacus

Kindergarten math activities can be incorporated into a child's day in a myriad of ways. In fact, teaching math concepts to kindergartners involves so much more than simply teaching kids their numbers.

Teaching Kindergartners Math

Successful kindergarten teachers understand that teaching young children math means teaching them much more than merely how to count. Math concepts build upon each other, which is why it is so important to teach new skills while at the same time have children continue to practice the skills they have already mastered.

One of the best ways to teach children about math is to show them how math is used in their world every day. Basic skills like number recognition and counting numbers form the foundation for many other math activities and lessons. In order to really pique children's interest in mathematics, however, you have to encourage their curiosity and help them build their observation skills.

Common Kindergarten Math Activities

The math activities you select for your children can be relatively simple. In many cases, a math lesson is more about the presentation than the actual material.

Common Teaching Materials

Give kids the opportunity to actually manipulate the items they are using in order to learn math concepts. In this way, kids often don't even realize they are learning simply because they are having so much fun playing!

Scavenger hunts-Give kids simple scavenger hunts that enhance their observations skills while at the same time provide plenty of opportunities for them to practice counting and other math objectives. Ask kids to count objects in the room, such as markers, Play-Doh containers, tape dispensers, scissors, etc. Put a series of objects on the table, and encourage children to pick up each object as he or she counts the total number of each on the table. Objects could include crayons, erasers, pencils, markers, glue sticks, construction paper, etc.

Greater or less than activity-For this activity, create piles of popsicle sticks, blocks, crayons, etc. Be sure that each pile has a different number of objects. Instruct children to count the amount of objects in each pile, and then ask them which pile has the greater number.

Measuring-Teaching kindergarten children about measurements is very simple to do. At this age, delving too deeply into specific measurement terms, like inches and feet, can be overwhelming. Instead, teach them the concept of bigger and smaller. Use common, everyday materials to measure objects. For example, give kids a workbook or coloring book and several crayons. Instruct children to measure the length of the book by seeing how many colors will fit along one side of the book. Be sure to use several different book sizes to emphasize the lesson of bigger and smaller when you teach this lesson.

Math Teaching Tips

In addition to the above Kindergarten math activities, the following tips are important.

  • Teach vocabulary-For example, use descriptive words, like "big", "small", "short", "long", "equal to", "addition", "subtraction", "measure", and of course all of the names of the shapes to incorporate vocabulary throughout the day.
  • Allow time for exploration-Don't rush children through their lessons; instead, allow them time to examine and handle the objects they are using.
  • Don't overdo it-Teach each lesson in short increments of time, recognizing that intensely-structured activities can negatively affect children's attention spans.
  • Work in small groups-Allow children to work together in small groups, and change those groups frequently to encourage kids' socialization skills.
  • Build on each skill-Simple activities, like counting, can lead to more in-depth lessons, such as addition and subtraction, missing numbers, sequencing, and more.

Finally, continue to work with those students who are struggling in specific areas, while, at the same time, you work to introduce new concepts to students who have mastered prior skills and are ready to move on to more complicated activities. Spend some one-on-one time with each student, if possible, to ensure that he or she really understands the activities. Have older students or parent volunteers come in to help with one-on-one time if necessary and possible. As students become more confident in their math abilities, they will become more eager to learn new concepts and master new skills.

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Teaching Math to Kindergarteners