Children learn numbers to represent quantities and to solve quantitative problems. Some pre-skills needful for learning addition include counting, one-to-one correspondence, the concepts of part-while relationship, number bonds, and perhaps recognition of small quantities by sight and grouping objects together.

Learning how to add is an important milestone in a child’s math development. Children develop different strategies to learn how to add- like working with combining small quantities together, using concrete objects to help them count the total number and model approaches.

It is important that your child is ready for such addition concepts. Follow your child’s interest in numbers, and concretise the learning with pictures, visual aids and hands-on materials!

I knew my girl was ready when she came home one day and told me she wants to add using counters. I was delighted she initiated that! A good guess will be she has been using these Montessori materials in her preschool. Using concrete materials to learn is ingrained in them from early exposure to Montessori approach to learning. Visualising the addition process for a Montessori learner is effortless and engaging!

For this hands-on activity, you simply can gather some materials from home:
1. writing board or writing paper
2. Small objects like chips, counters, macaroni, poms poms, or pebbles.

3. Number dice or number spinners

To play this game, just ask your child to roll the dice or spin a number.

Then ask your child to write out the addition sentence using the two numbers.

Represent the two numbers using the small objects.
Then model the process of addition by counting all the objects represented.

Complete the addition sentence by writing in the total quantity.

Some educational videos also make learning fun!
click on the links below!

Learning how to add can be fun and interactive!!

# Fairy Dust Playdough Set

We are all familiar with how play dough has captivated children of all ages! They are fabulous for fun and learning! Here are 5 ways how it helps your child to develop!

1. Fine motor skills

Play dough is ideal for building the tiny motor skills through your child manipulating the malleable material by rolling, pressing, pinching, chopping, shredding and much more!

Poking in objects into the play dough requires focus and coordination.

2. Develops creativity and imagination

Play dough provides endless possibilities for imaginative play and can represent anything in the mind of a child!

3. Great for building Cognitive skills!

Using play dough with letter shapes us great for letter recognition, and inserting small objects like buttons into play dough can be used for counting! Children can use the play dough to compare sizes, length and thickness. They can roll little balls and learn one to one correspondence, and even addition. They can also sort the balls by colour! iThe choices for learning are limitless!

4. Making Play dough- Great for Science concepts!

When you make play dough with your child, your child gets to be amazed by the process of mixing different ingredients into something gooey, and sticky! They learn to use their senses to learn about texture, and see the process of transformation of different materials!

5. Great for Language Development

Pretend play with play dough contributes greatly to your child’s language play. Interacting with play dough, your child taps on her imagination and comes up with play scripts, where she conceives ideas for a social scenario, and uses her vocabulary and functional language to verbalise and ‘act out’ her ideas. She engages herself in social dialogues and learn to think of solutions to problem-solve.

Our Fairy Dust Play Dough Setup

My little darling has been preoccupied with the theme of fairies in the woods, their magical journeys and fantasies of adventure and wonder.

To encourage creativity, I like to use open-ended materials for her to tap on her imagination and encourage originality.

This thematic fairy-dust playdoh set is easy to set up! And is perfect for a whole afternoon of make-believe and pretend play!

Presenting the materials on a tray is like an invitation to play! which no child can resist!

My little one immediately was captivated by the myriad of materials, and started coming up with her ideas as to how to use the materials. As she picks out the different materials, she used adjectives to describe the twigs and the paper flowers. She also started coming up with incredulous ideas about how a fairy has wings, and was  playing in the Pixie Garden. To make the fairy, she had to first used her palm to roll the play dough, and then estimate how to make a big and smaller ball. To join the parts together, I suggested to her using a sharp long object, and she immediately picked out the twig. To create the wings, she selected the angel wing embellishment and pressed it hard to make it stay. Using the eyes and twigs as hands, she completed the look of her little make-believe fairy!

Next, to create the setting for the main character, she decided to make a garden! She stayed on task for a prolonged period of time trying to actualise her ideas for the garden! She flattened the dough to create grass and ground for the fairy to stand on. Then she inserted flowers and twigs to make it natural looking. She also added in little garden creatures like butterflies and worms. This was a great opportunity for me to use thematic vocabulary like different garden animals! To complete the garden look, she started referring to Tinklebelle story about pixie dust. She then sprinkled some glitter into the play dough and the wonder happened!

Look at her little Fairy Garden with her Fairy! I love how this process of  creating art and actualising her ideas!

The process of creation far supersedes the finished product!

# Chinese New Year Gold Coins

You can’t miss these glittery, gold coins during the Chinese New Year season! These gold coins are supposed to signify prosperity and good luck. My little one was drawn to these coins straighaway! Besides being a great chocolate treat, these coins can be used for learning in 5 great ways!

1. Counting Numbers

Simply use the coins for this Math Montessori idea! Teach your child how to count by using one to one correspondence according to the number cards shown!

2. Dollars and cents

Show the money equivalent by matching the dollar value with the right number of coins. This is a great to teach value of dollars and the different dollar denominations!

3. Creating shapes!

Get creative by making different shapes with the gold coins! Your imaginative little one may just surprise you with different shapes to make up a picture!

4. Letter shape and recognition

You can also create letter awareness by asking your little one to make different letters! This enhances your child’s letter recognition and interest in the alphabet. Along the way,you can also teach phonics sounds!

5. Comparison of quantity (more or less)

You can also use these beautiful coins for comparison of quantity! Simply stack up quantities like 3 coins and 8 coins and introduce concepts like ‘more’ or ‘less’ by asking your child to compare the different quantities. This helps your child to make visual discrimination of the different quantities.

# 10 Activity Ideas for Goldilocks And The Three Bears!

Based on the much-loved tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, we have come up with 10 perfect activity ideas for your little preschooler at home or children in your classroom. Your children will love reading this classic and doing these activities as fun extensions!

Skills covered in these activities:

A. Fine motor skills such as weaving

B. Math skills such as counting, comparing sizes, and one-to-one correspondence.

C. Language skills such as using adjectives, antonyms, word recognition and narrative language for pretend play.

Go read the fairy tale and immerse your child in these wonderful 10 activity ideas!

1. Antonyms (Opposites)

Allow your child to learn about opposites such as hard, soft, cold, hot, rough, smooth, by using this sensory bin as touch game. Fill a basket with objects of opposites, and watch how your child use her senses to differentiate the opposite properties. This is also a great sorting activity!

2. Counting using One-to-one correspondence

The number 3 is mentioned repeatedly throughout the story- 3 bears, 3 beds, 3 chairs and 3 bowls. The book is a great context for your child to learn counting, using one-to-one correspondence in this counting game. The number chart helps your child to visually understand comparison of quantities for each number and concepts such as “more” or “less”. Simply use some bear biscuits and a number chart and your child will be delighted to try it out, and gratify herself with a nice treat after!

3.  Weaving Bear

This is a Montessori-inspired practical activity! Cut out a bear figure and use a one-hole puncher to make holes for your child to weave through! It trains your child’s fine motor skills and concentration. My girl had tons of fun toying with the shoe lace and pulling it up and down through the holes!

4. Pretend Play!

Having this sensory bin will definitely appeal to your child to do some pretend play and role-play. Re-enacting the story is made fun with these concrete, hands-on props! Pretend-play is great for your child to practice skills like story-sequencing, recalling events, using a narrative script as well use of new language words from the book. My girl was parroting the repetitive phrases/ language chunks as she re-tells the stories with lines from the story like ” This porridge is too hot! This chair is too hard!” Its wonderful to see how the story comes alive in my preschooler’s pretend play script and dramatization with the props!

5. Comparing Sizes

To teach concepts of big, medium and small, I came up this matching activity with picture cards of varying sizes. My little preschooler loves assigning the right size of objects to each respective bear character and indirectly learning how to arrange objects according to size. You can also introduce matching with word cards like “Big” “Medium” “Small”.

6. Role-play using Magnetic Characters

This is another way of getting your child to do pretend play or role-play. Simply put magnetic strips behind the characters and the props and your child is ready to engage herself with some story-telling on the magnetic easel board.  Great activity to occupy your child!

7. Contextual words

Create this simple sensory bin , where picture cards are hidden in rice, beans or pom poms! Learning new words becomes fun and sensorial when your child gets to dig out the right picture card to match the word. Learning new words never get this fun!

8. Scavenger Hunt

Get your child busy searching  for objects around the house by going on a scavenger hunt. These words are extracted from the story and I printed them out to make word cards. Get your child to take a photo of the object with a camera, print it out and get your child to match the photo with the word!

Readers’ Theatre is a great way to dramatise the story with a group of children! Get ready some scripts, masks for the main characters and you can have a theatre show right there!

Your little one will never tire of reading this book over and over again! These book-activities are sure to get your child craving for more readings! Your  child is sure to pick up new concepts from each new reading, and you will be surprised how quickly your child can internalise new words when learnt contextually from the book!

This blog post is published in The Preschool Survival Kit Magazine distributed to all preschools in Singapore.

# Goldilocks & Three Bears- Counting Bears

Learning Counting with little bears!

This is another extension activity based on the much-loved book “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

One of the main concepts we can draw from this story is the Math concept of quantity in counting. The number 3 is a repetitive number mentioned in the story- 3 bears, 3 bowls, 3 chairs and 3 beds. So to reinforce my girl’s counting skills, I came up with this simple thematic activity of having her to count bear biscuits on a number chart, and then having her to eat it all up upon completion of the activity!

To prepare the learning tray, simply print out or draw squares to represent the quantity for each number. The number chart aids the visualisation and comparison of the quantities for each consecutive number. You can get bear biscuits or any small treats for the little one to enjoy.

My little girl was really motivated to get started upon seeing her favourite snack! She placed the first bear biscuit on the chart with number one and I counted with her. She practiced her one-to-one correspondence skill by placing one biscuit one at a time as she counts. For young preschoolers who are beginning to count, you will have to model the counting with them. Over time, they will be able to assign one number to one object. This chart also aids their visual discrimination of the varying quantities, and concepts of more or less.

My little preschooler sure had a Beary good time with the little bears!

# Do you know the Muffin Man?

Each time I walked past the asle at the supermarket where the baking supplies are, I always thought how nice it will be to bake with my girl at home. Well today, after having procrastinated it long enough, I decided to have a go at baking muffins! Out of a Betty Crocker Muffin Box! What else for a beginner? 🙂

The whole process was quick, easy and so educational! My girl put on her little apron and was raring to go when I brought out the ingredients! I told her the quantity for each ingredient that we needed, and she watched me measure and estimate the amount for the 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 vegetable oil. She then cracked the two eggs and I seized the opportunity to teach her the different parts of the egg (eggshell, yolk, egg white). She also stood on the little stool by the kitchen sink and helped me rinse the blueberries.

She then poured the ingredients one by one into the glass bowl as I read out the instructions on the muffin box. She stirred the muffin mixture with the wooden spoon with all her might, and she was so fascinated watching all the ingredients blend into a lumpy batter.

The final step was to scoop the batter and fill the baking cups in the baking tray. It took great precision and focus to make sure the batter doesn’t spill outside the cups.

Upon filling the sixth paper cup, an idea struck her and she exclaimed, ” Mummy, can we put sprinkles and marshmallows on top?” And so we did!

The first batch went into the oven and I took time to explain to her how to adjust the timer for 15 mins, and the temperature of 400 F. When the baking started, Rae just stood in front of the oven, completely fascinated watching the batter rise to become fluffy muffins.

When the little muffins were ready, I took them out of the oven and I could see Rae beaming with pride at our little achievement. The muffins sat pretty in the pink paper cups. That afternoon, we had the nicest tea time at home, delighting ourselves with our little homemade muffins.

This whole baking experience is so rich in educational value! Let me summarise!

Fine motor Skills

1. Pouring the oil and milk into the mixture

2 Rinsing the blueberries

3. Cracking the eggs into a bowl

4. Stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon

5. Transferring the batter into the baking cups

Math

6. Matching the paper cups to the compartments in the muffin trays

7. Counting the number of eggs needed

8. Using measuring tools like cups, and measuring spoons.

9. Be exposed to fraction terms like 3/4 cups or 1/4 cup of oil.

10. Understand time concepts like fifteen minutes.

11. Count the number of muffins made

12.For older children, you can introduce concepts of division when you divide the batter into 12 portions to be baked.

Language

13. Learn verbs like stir, heat, drain, place, mix, grease, rinse, stir, divide, scoop,blend, remove, bake, cool, store, etc

14. Learn the different ingredients needed for baking muffins

15. Label the different parts of an egg

16. Learn what is instructional text and how is written on the box.

17. Follow one-step or two-step instructions