Today, Sheri offers great tips for encouraging math moments in everyday experiences:
“Mathematical experiences are all around us in everyday situations that we don’t even realize, and it’s important to tap into these hidden experiences with our kids. Research shows that developing and encouraging math skills and problem solving at home provides children an advantage in school, as they now are asked at a very early age to understand number sense. Here are some easy and tangible ways to encourage “math talk” in everyday experiences. The truth is that the math opportunities are already there - you just have to notice them and grab the moment to share them with your child.
Cooking. Cooking provides more math thinking than one would expect. Reading a recipe and discussing the fractional measurements exposes kids to the idea that fractions represent smaller parts of a whole. Measuring gives children concrete opportunities to have hands on practice with math language of more than or less than as you point out that a recipe asks for a ½ cup flour and ¾ cup sugar (there is more sugar than flour). Talk about the time it takes to cook and let your child program the timer and become the reporter of how much time is left before it is done.
Shopping. Going to a store is one of the best math experiences to expose your child to the idea of money, more than/less than, and adding with decimals. Not that we expect young children to be adding decimals but it is the math talk that is important. Rounding monetary amounts to the nearest whole dollar, talking about comparing amounts and values, and making change all occur while shopping.
A trip to the park. If you’re like me you spend many, many hours at the local park and playground. This outing can provide plenty of opportunities to notice and name geometric ideas. Playground structures are replete with geometry. Noticing and naming shapes, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, exposes your child to the language that they will be seeing for years to come in school. Using vocabulary terms such as angle, height, and shape terms encourages your child to notice them naturally.
Household chores. Yes, even chores can foster mathematical thinking. Laundry provides an excellent opportunity to encourage sorting by attributes of color, item, size, or material. Having your child count and sort the clean socks into matching pairs teaches one-to-one correspondence, counting by two’s, and matching like objects by similar attributes. Setting the table teaches problem solving as your child needs to think about how many people there are and how many forks, knives, and spoons they need to get to give everyone an equal number. Even organizing a bookshelf by size of book (i.e., small to large) promotes analytic thinking.
These are just a handful of math moment ideas - among hundreds! - that occur in everyday experiences and promote math thinking and problem solving skills. Taking advantage of them and being conscious of them takes some effort but is worth the time. Your child will be better ready for the challenges of mathematical thinking in school, and the bonus is that these interactions offer a fun and natural way to bond with your child.”
Image credit: Chalkboard Sets from Oriental Trading