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Fun ways to teach toddlers the joy of numbers

Games such as making newspaper balls and throwing them in a net can be helpful as the children can count their hits and misses.

November 13, 2018 5:52:16 pm
teaching numbersFind innovative ways to teach counting numbers to kids. (Source: Getty Images)
teaching numbers Find innovative ways to teach counting numbers to kids. (Source: Getty Images)

Try these tricks and games to teach your kids numbers and simple addition, subtraction.

By Amita Bhardwaj

When it is time to teach kids numbers, if there is one thumb rule that you should keep in mind, it is that you need to make number activities fun. Doing it right can lay the foundation for a lifelong love for math. We have all heard tales of how kids are intimidated by math and clearly, we need to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Starting early with songs like “Three Blind Mice” or “Ten Green Bottles” is a good way to start acclimatising them to the concept of numbers. By the time they are two years old, chances are that if you have been saying numbers aloud, they are able to rattle off some numbers, of course without understanding what they really mean. It is at this stage that you need to use day-to-day situations and examples to help them understand the concept. Using visual references and not just the sounds of numbers can be a key enabler in this journey. Here are some handy activities that can be easily used:

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Counting vehicles: While on the road, help them count their favourite cars or bikes, whatever takes their fancy.

Counting objects around the house: Counting the number of fans or doors in the house while you are going about your day can help them not just absorb the concept but also to understand that math is a part of everyday life and not something that needs to be studied in worksheets alone.

Source: Getty Images

Draw: You can bring numbers to life by asking the child to paint the numbers in bright colours.

Games such as making newspaper balls and throwing them in a net can be helpful as the children can count their hits and misses. Using dice and fruit snacks and eating the exact number of helpings as the dice can all be healthy ways of reinforcing the number lesson.

Also Read: 8 books that will make your child fall in love with math

As with numbers, the next logical progression to addition and subtraction should also come by way of daily experiences. A story, folding clothes, setting the table, buying vegetables can all be coachable moments. The early strategy to teach the child addition and subtraction is through the use of fingers. You could soon graduate to using small objects such as Popsicle sticks, cubes and more. Once again using visual references can come in handy. Remember, therefore, to draw and help them add and subtract. Games are another handy resource. Consider this-instead of a regular subtraction worksheet, you could set up bowling pins and each time the child knocks a few pins, let him find out how many remain. You could also play addition and subtraction games with a deck of cards or dice. For children fond of playing with play dough, rolling balls of play dough and smashing away numbers can be another fun exercise that can teach subtraction.

Source: Getty Images

Lego bricks are yet another lovely prompt to teach addition and subtraction. Asking the child questions such as how many red bricks are there and then how many red and green bricks are there altogether, can set the stage. You can soon proceed to building a tower of 5, breaking 2 off and then adding another 3.

You could also use the number line as an addition strategy. In fact, instead of drawing a number line on paper, consider using a real life number line. We explored this concept by using a real life number line with numbers written on a piece of paper and the child actually moving from one number to the next as you ask him to add or subtract!

While most kids love pretend play, you could also turn it around into a learning exercise without them as much as noticing it. Pretend to go shopping at a toy store and let the child open up their piggy bank to see what they will need to pay for the toy they choose and the money they should get back.

For kids who love art and craft as an activity, you could customise the teaching exercises that keep their interest in mind. For example, you could not only roll a dice and add the scores but also ask them to place as many red dots on a ladybird that you have cut out for them. The added perk will be to see the sparkle in their eyes once their ladybird artwork is completed.

When it comes to teaching, you are only limited by your imagination! There are enough and more activities that you can develop yourself that keeps the child engaged and allows him or her to have oodles of fun while building a strong foundation!

(The writer is Director-Curriculum with Footprints Childcare, a national play school and day care chain.)

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