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Using Toys & Games to Teach Preschool Children Math Skills

written by: Lisalyn • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/5/2012

Looking for ideas to teach your preschooler basic math skills? Preschoolers learn through active play. Many popular toys and games can be used to teach pre-k math skills. Read on for ideas you can use at home.

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    How Preschoolers Learn

    Preschoolers learn through play. Of course, play isn't the only way children learn. However, opportunities for quality play time should be found daily in order to promote and enhance the learning of basic skills. Interaction and socialization are important factors to learning, as well. Preschoolers who are immersed in social and cultural environments that include people of all ages will have an advantage when it comes to learning basic preschool math skills. Being exposed to a variety of toys and pre-k math games will further this advantage.

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    What are Pre-K Math Skills?

    Children headed to kindergarten are expected to have a firm understanding of basic pre-k math skills. These math skills can easily be taught over the course of daily play and regular household activities like cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Here are several pre-k math skills that your child should be learning:

    • Sorting-colors, sizes, and like items
    • Identifying patterns and sequence
    • Naming basic shapes
    • Rote counting from 1 to 10 and counting objects to 10
    • Grouping like items and the concept of adding to or taking away from the group

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    Using Popular Toys and Games

    Preschoolers respond well to free play and structured play. You can use popular toys and games that you already have on hand to teach basic pre-k math skills. Here is an outline of some popular toys and games you can use, along with skills lists that each will naturally cover.

    Hi Ho Cherry-O!

    This game teaches counting and basic sorting. With each move, your preschooler will have the opportunity to count his cherries. Sometimes he will have to dump his bucket and start over. You can also teach the idea of basic measurement: a full bucket versus a half bucket. Like most classic games, this is teaching so much more than basic math.

    Candy Land

    This game is a fun way to learn colors and counting and the concept is simple enough for very young preschoolers. You could also use the game cards to teach matching by handing the child a specific color card or character card and asking them to find the match on the game board.

    Bingo

    Bingo games of all kinds can be purchased or you can make your own using only the numbers 1 through 10. This teaches number recognition. Plus it's fun to be the first to get a BINGO!

    UNO

    This card game reinforces color and number recognition. You also have to count out everyone's cards and then add up the scores. You can also play matching games with these cards.

    Duplo Blocks

    Most preschoolers love to build with Duplos, the larger brick building blocks by Lego. You can sort by color or size, build towers with 2 blocks or 6 blocks, build a tower and then count the blocks, or create patterns with different colors and sizes. This toy leaves plenty of room for imagination.

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    Play and Reap the Benefits!

    Basic pre-k math skills are as close as your game closet or toy chest. Sit in the floor with your child today and play some pre-k math games. You'll both have a good time and your preschooler will be learning in the most natural setting, doing what he does best-playing.