As a teacher myself I know how important it is for a toddler to have a good understanding of the basic maths skills. These are the building blocks for future learning.
So I wanted to teach my toddler simple maths skills before starting school. I started doing lots of fun and practical maths activities with her and setting up independent activities she could learn to achieve on her own. To save money I used printable activities and games as well as puzzles and toys.
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12 Simple Maths Skills For A Toddler
1. Counting books
Our first step was to enjoy counting and numbers while we were reading our favourite books. Both of my children love I-spy books. They are great for learning new vocabulary and counting. We started by looking for an object and then I would model counting how many there were. After a while she started to copy me and can now count objects to 20 on her own.
2. Songs and Rhymes
Any songs and rhymes with counting in them are great fun, especially if you can add actions. We love 5 little monkeys, five little ducks and ten in a bed.
3. Number Activities
When the can count to ten it’s important to get them to recognise the number in words and digits. I made a set of number matching activities that you can teach them to do and then encourage them to complete independently to build their confidence. I laminate the activities and keep them in a folder that they can easily access or I set it up on the table and leave it for her to find.
Check out my Etsy shop Loving Mummy Life Printables for more printable activities and planners.
4. Counting Bears
We love these, they are so much fun. They are so cute and colourful that preschoolers love to pick them up and play with them. They are really versatile and can teach lots of different skills. We sort colours in the beakers, count them, use the dice to recognise numbers, create patterns, practise fine motor skills with the tweezers and use them for pretend play.
5. Shape Activities
I made a set of printable shape activities for us to use at home. They have matching games, recognise the shape names, patterns, shape hunt that we can use at home or take on walks with us and identifying the features of the shapes. I print an activity and teach my preschooler how to enjoy this maths activity. Then I leave it out or in a place they can easily access to encourage independent learning. By repeating the activity it builds their confidence and encourages then to investigate. We also like to play shape board games and use a shape sorter.
6. Patterns And Puzzles
Both of these activities are good for developing fine motor skills and maths skills. Threading beads is a fun way to create patterns with your pre-schooler, you can also try threading different coloured pasta shapes. Puzzles are such a great activity – they are really calming and encourage concentration.
7. Colour Activities
Colour activities are an easy and fun way to practise matching and patterns. I made a set of activities and games that preschoolers can easily do on their own. They teach children to recognise the colours and also the matching words.
Both of my children have loved a measuring tape from when they were pre-schoolers. It often becomes part of their pretend play and is an easy way for them to be playing with numbers. It teaches them the basic idea of measuring and can encourage them to start talking about bigger than, smaller than, longer, shorter, taller and the same as.
This is a practical and fun life skill. Having some play scales is a good way to introduce the concept of weighing. Keep it simple to start with and just compare which side of the scales is heavier and lighter. Let them investigate what happens when they add different objects – this is a good way to discover that sometime small objects can be heavy and some big objects are light.
Every house needs playdoh. You can use it to teach so many different skills. Some of the activities we do for maths are using playdoh for comparing activities – make a long snake, can you make a shorter one? Make two the same size. You can talk about colour, use fine motor skills, make shapes to count and mould the numbers. As well as just having screen free fun!
Teaching the concept of money from an early age is important. Children don’t see money being used very often as most people pay with their card so it is important to show children money and talk about the values. We love to play shops with our till or restaurants in the play kitchen.
We are always talking about time and pre-schoolers should be able to recognise the different parts to a day – morning, midday, afternoon, evening and bedtime. They should also be able to recognise which activities go with different parts of the day e.g. we brush our teeth and get dressed in the morning. It can help to keep a timetable where children can put on the day’s activities and can take them off as they complete them. Print a timetable, laminate the activities and stick Velcro to them to make it easy to reuse. As they get older you can change to using a weekly timetable and put on any important event that week.
Take a look at our easy and calm routine for after school:
It is important to teach your toddler simple maths skills before they start school. Build their confidence and independence by letting them investigate and repeat activities.
Using printables can be a cheaper option than buying toys and games. To make them reusable use a laminator so the pages are strong and wipe clean use Velcro to show children where to stick matching pictures.