Children start learning numeracy skills from the time they’re born. This learning happens from watching and experiencing numeracy in action during everyday play and activities.
The following is a list of play extension ideas that might also help you find ways to expand on the children’s math and counting knowledge and experience! You will also find materials, as well as room setup and other considerations, at the bottom of the page.
- Help children understand the concept of measurement such as
- Identify numbers through measurement and weight. Use a scale to measure and weigh items.
- Provide children with everything they need to weigh themselves and other items in your CNC space. Talk about what is heavier/lighter.Can children estimate if something is heavier or lighter? Encourage children to test out their estimation skills! Almost anything can be weighed and/or measured! It might be toys, shapes, liquids, sand, beans or grains.
- When they weigh themselves or each other. Get them to document it over a period of time
- Encourage children to measure themselves and cut out the length of how tall they are.
- Learn time, have a large clock and count the numbers. Talk about what time CNC starts and when is it time to go home? How many days do we come to CNC?
- Talk about the length of time till the next transition, or how long it takes to have a snack. You can also talk about how long you have for gross motor, music or outdoor play
- Observe time and measurements in cooking activities. Talk about the process from start to finish. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about terms like more or less. For example, what would happen if you put more or less flour?
- For baking activities highlight measuring, pouring and counting ingredients
- Observe the time it takes to melt snow. What if you use different methods to melt the snow? (For example, is it quicker or slower if you add heat? What about if you have more or less snow? Which takes longer? Use a timer to see how long things take
- Measure items in the room or the room itself. How big is the space? How big is the furniture? Use different comparison/contrasting language – for example, which item is bigger/smaller, taller/shorter, heavier/lighter, thicker/thinner, etc.
- Practice estimating. Play the “Guess How Many?” game “how many will fit into this?
- Count the number of different body parts people have (for example, two eyes, and two arms) It’s also a good opportunity to talk about how some people are different and might not have the same as others.
- Show a number and get the children to find (or tidy up)one item or the number of items that match the number.
- Count and classify fruit and vegetables. How many are the same colour/shape/size?
- Provide opportunities to practice recognizing and matching the number and words from 1-10.
- Create a matching game using jar lids, write a number on one jar and the word on another (1 and One). Have children match the number to the word.
- Count the letters in your name, streets or the various countries represented in the program.
- Count the number of rooms or classes in the building.
- Count the number and ages of the children in the group
- Talk about and explore different kinds of transportation (boats, cars, buses, planes)Which mode of transportation can carry more or fewer people and things?
- When lining up for hand washing, we can talk about numbers. (ie: Who is first and who is second? How many friends are in the line now?)
- Using blocks for stacking and counting. How many are there?
- Find Card/dice games for children to play that use counting and numbers
- Find Board games that use counting or numbers
- Count and classify materials/loose parts and put them on different shelves or in different bins/containers
- Measure, sort, classify and count money. Use money from around the world to look at the different shapes and sizes. Compare it to Canadian currency. Is there a difference in the value? Matching coins, bills from different currencies.
- Talk about what people used before money and instead of money. For example, research the history of how indigenous peoples trade and in many places they barter to get the things they needed. Do they use haggling to purchase items or is it the price as listed?
- Pancake math flipping can be done with different other foods, like roti or pita!
- Use puzzles that have a numbers or counting theme
- Counting objects using a muffin tin.
Culture and diversity
- How many languages can we count in? Have children teach the group to count in their home language. Can you also write the numbers in different languages?
- Talk about how there are different ways to count things in different cultures.For example, in some places, they might use something like an Abacus or tally marks.
- Bake or cook different recipes from around the world. Encourage children to measure and count what you need, and mix it for a certain number of minutes or stir.
- Look for counting games from children’s home countries and indigenous communities.
- Count the number of people in the children’s families. How many males, females, big, small, tall, short, old, young and how many babies?
- Count how many languages various family members speak. You can even make a chart and display it on board!
- Count shapes and/or signs. For example, go for a walk, identify and count the signs or shapes they notice while walking. How many circles, flowers or traffic lights can you find before you get home or to the CNC program?
- Identify and match numbers in home languages and English.
- Talk about how old children are, and the ages of family members. What does that age/number mean?
- Encourage parents to find opportunities to count when they are together
- Teach the children about phone numbersMeasure and trace everyone’s feet in the family and write their shoe size then Compare and contrast.
- Encourage children to count the number of steps to walk from the mailbox to the front door at home. They can also count, compare and contrast:
- how many houses and people live on their street or in your community.
- how many stores/libraries/churches/temples are in your community, libraries
- how many high-rise buildings.
- Visit the post office or walk to the mailbox and post mail.
- Talk about how places in your community use numbers – for example, house numbers, numbers as street names, etc.
- Set up different environments to support counting;
- A grocery store with food items, cash register and money
- A post office that sells stamps, count labels and packages. Make your own mailbox.
- A bank with various coins, dollars and money from various countries. Display the Canadian dollar and coins. Observe similarities, count and compare.
- A pastry store display and count items. Make labels and price products.
- Play gas station or restaurant with a cash register and prices/menu on a poster board
- Make an airport buy tickets, exchange money, count how many can get on the plane and how many bags can bring
- Think of other places where you buy things or where you need money to buy things or services. (For example, a vet clinic or shoe repair store where they have to pay for the service. Get creative!)
Gross motor and movement
- Play soccer and count how many goals! Even infants can roll the ball or pass back and forth.
- Laminate shapes with the numbers 1-10 on them and place them on the ground for children to jump on like hopscotch
- Roll or throw a beach ball back and forth and count the times they roll/throw it. This can also be done while jumping or walking.
- Play “What Time is Mr. Wolf”
- Do a number scavenger hunt! Encourage children to find as many things as possible with numbers on them. (Parents can do this at home too!)
- Bean bag throwing. How far did it go? (You can measure it or have numbers on the floor or in boxes to measure the distance.)
- How many jumping jacks can you do?
- Pick a number out of a box, and choose a movement to do. For example, if a child chooses the number 5 out of the box, they might choose to do 5 jumping jacks, hula hoop spins, or somersaults.
- Have the children make the shapes of different numbers using their bodies
- Play “How many steps does it take” to get to… the blocks, the door, etc.
- Set up hopscotch squares in your indoor space either in the play space or in the gross motor space
- If you have an outside play space, provide chalk for children to use to write numbers and/or draw hopscotch squares
- Count how many toys there are. For example, how many bikes.
- Using stopwatches or timers for races. Make a chart or write it down and encourage the children to beat their best times!
- Sort and count loose parts and things like puzzles pieces, beads, blocks, fruits, pom poms, etc. Children can even use tongs, spoons or tweezers to pick up the small items.
- Cutting out a certain number of items or actual numbers
- Provide a sheet with four squares and a number in each square then the child glues the matching number of items into the square
- Write numbers with different colours, use different sizes of pencils, pens, markers, paint brushes, etc.
- Clothespin counting
- Use number shapes for lacing activities
- Have strings and Beads. Have the children create patterns with the beading
- Create a number line with loose parts/materials
- Number sticks
- Sing number songs such like “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed””
- Talk about the ages of the children in the group. What does it mean to be older or younger? Should older children help younger children? Do younger children always want help?
- Make up songs with numbers together for example:
- I am waiting for the circle, I am waiting, waiting to wash hand number 2. Jan is waiting, waiting she is number 5
- How can we use numbers to talk about our feelings/emotions? For example, if a child feels like a 10 today, it could mean that they feel really great! Whereas, if a child feels like a 2 today, they might not have a lot of energy, or might not be feeling their best.
- Play some partner games that involve counting – for example, “throw five times with your partner”
- Stick shapes on mac-tack paper, place the shapes on the floor or wall for children to recognize and count them
- Scooping in sensory bins with measuring spoons and cups
- Provide number shapes to use with play dough or sand
- Measure playdough. How long can you roll it? Which ball of playdough is larger?
- Children can count while at the snack table. For example, count equal numbers of animal crackers onto napkins for the children and then have them count while eating the crackers. Get the children to use their senses when counting such as smelling, texture, and taste.
- Cut numbers out of textured paper and post them on the wall or board with mac-tac Make numbers in different textures – especially for infants. (For example, in the sand, or in pudding or paint or with fabric and paper or plastic products)
- Matching socks – have clothes lined with close pegs and hang. Long or short
Art and creative
- Provide different colours, shapes, sizes and textures of paper/materials for children to use to create their favourite number or the numbers 1-10.
- Have infants can put different items on and off the sticky side of the mactac. Count how many items are there
- Make puppets to go with songs like “Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree”
- Painting different numbers from stencils
- Create a number collage
- Provide plastic clothes hangers, string and small cups for children to make their own scale
- Portion sizes half, quarter, third
- Compare and classify
Different material ideas:
- Measuring tape, measuring cups, and measuring spoons
- Keyboard and typewriter
- Cookie cutters and cookie sheets
- Bottles, beads, balls, boxes and brushes of various shapes and sizes
- Pencils, pens, scissors and stencils
- Mac tack
- Animals of different sizes
- Food and money from various cultures/countries
- Scale and weights
- Magnifying glass
- Loose parts such as pine cones, stones, sticks, rocks, rope
- Clocks, watches, phones and calculators, walkie talkie
- Cards and dice
- Writing objects such as chalkboard, whiteboard, paper
- Abacus and other counting tools from other cultures
Room setup and considerations
- Bring a variety of textures Use provocations or invitations to measure or count, around the room
- Provide opportunities for children to engage in counting as part of their play and activities
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