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.

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!

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.

# Rock Dominoes- Addition & Number bonds

Following our post on the Dot Method to perceive quantity by sight, I stumbled upon this idea of making Rock Dominoes in a Martha Stewart Craft site, and I straightway started brewing ideas on how to use these lovely handmade rock dominoes to teach Math.

Making the rock dominoes is easy! Just collect some rocks or smooth pebbles, and use a correction ink pen to inscribe the dots on the rocks.

Make a collection of rocks, with combinations of two quantities on either half of the rocks, with a dividing line. Get your child to recognise the quantity by sight. If your child is not sure, you can get them to check by counting the dots one by one on each side.

To get your child to learn number bonds, ask your child to identify the two quantities on the rock. Then pair them up with the dot cards according to the exact quantities on the rock.

Then ask your child to count all the dots on the two dot cards, to give you a sum total. You can prompt your child by asking ” How many dots are there altogether?”

To conclude this practice, make number bonds statements like ” 3 and 4 make 7″, or addition sentence ” 3 plus 4 equals 7″. For older children, get them to write down the addition sentence 3 +4 =7

The rock dominoes and the dot cards are great visual aids to help your child grasp concepts of number bonds and addition. This approach also helps your child to understand the part-whole relationship in addition concepts.

Now go and rock it! 🙂

# Dot Method Part 2- Playdough and Sticker Dot book

As mentioned in an earlier post on the Dot Method, one of the ways of learning the concept of quantity for numbers is the dot method. This method teaches children to use their visual perception to identify quantity of objects by sight.

1. Play Dough & Buttons

As a follow-up on the using the Dot Method to develop perception of quantity by sight, I prepared a learning tray where Rae gets to interact with play dough and buttons.

You can use the dot cards and ask your child to create the same dot pattern by pressing the buttons on the play dough

2. Sticker Dot Book

Another fun activity to get your child to get familiar with identifying quantity of objects by sight is this hands-on activity of creating her very own Sticker Dot book. You can ask your child to use sticker dots, or other kinds of stickers such as foam stickers to create a  dot book.  Stick the number of stickers according to the number shown on each page. When the book is completed, you can use the book to go through with the child, so as to reinforce the dot method. It is also perfectly alright if your child prefers to use one-to-one correspondence method to count the number of stickers on each number page. Rae loves pointing out the numbers and counting in this number book she has created!

# Fish Crackers- Bar Chart

Something fishy is going on! :9
You can create a bar chart for your child to place the fish crackers according to the numbers. It becomes a visual aid for your child to understand the quantity represented for each number. It also helps in your child’s comparison skills for numbers. You can also use a muffin tray to teach counting! 🙂