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How to Teach Preschool Numbers: Activities Using Music

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 6/6/2012

The trick to teaching numbers and pre-math in a preschool classroom is to make each lesson motivating, creative, and an enjoyable experience. Read on to see how using traditional songs/chants can provide lively preschool number activities the kids will love to do.

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    TN 13-09-07 83A It has been said that learning is child's play and this has become evident as young children become caught up in the rhythm and rhyme of traditional songs and chants. An exciting way to emphasize preschool numbers is to explore pre-math concepts and processes while enhancing listening and language skills through music. Here are a few ideas to try in your classroom.

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    Counting

    Counting is an important part of an early childhood curriculum. Start with counting to five and move up in small increments. Here is a fingerplay that counts to ten with apples. Recite this fingerplay and do the motions together. Assess the children's counting skills by providing a bowl of apples and asking each child to count them. Treat the class with apple slices for a snack.

    Ten red apples growing on a tree (hold hands high with fingers extended)

    Five for you and five for me. (wave one hand, then the other)

    Help me shake the tree just so, (shake body)

    And ten red apples fall down below. (lower hands with fingers extended)

    One, two, three, four, five, (count fingers on one hand)

    Six, seven, eight, nine, ten. (count fingers on the other hand)

    (Author Unknown)

    Other counting songs (and math application tunes) can be found on the Songs for Teaching website. www.songsforteaching.com/numberscounting.htm

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    Addition

    Have the children gather in an open area. Sing, count, and keep adding one more swaying elephant (children) to the group. Emphasize that adding 1 plus 1 equals 2, and then adding one more makes 3 and so on.

    One elephant went out to play

    On a spider's web one day.

    He had such enormous fun,

    He asked for another elephant to come.

    Continue with:

    Two elephants went out to play...

    Three elephants went out to play...

    Sing and count until all children have a chance to become elephants and join the group.

    Traditional Song (Author Unknown)

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    Subtraction

    Dramatize this song by having 5 children (then 4, 3, and so on) pretending to jump on the bed. Have then jump up and down and then fall off the make believe bed, which is a blanket on the floor. The fallen children need to sit quietly on the floor and continue singing the song.

    Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,

    One fell off and bumped his head.

    Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,

    "No more monkeys jumping on the bed."

    Continue sing with 4, 3, 2, 1

    Traditional Song (Author Unknown)

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    One-To-One Correspondence

    Young children have the ability to match the quantity they see with the quantity they hear. The concept of one-to-one correspondence is an abstract concept, but children can understand and use it naturally, especially when you model it repetitively in songs or chants. Teachers can use simple chants throughout the day to teach this concept. For example, "A book for you and a book for me" or "Put two shoes on two feet."

    You can teach this mathematical concept using this traditional nursery rhyme. To dramatize it, stuff three lunch bags with cotton to look like wool. Have each character in the song (pick three children) to pick up a bag on cue while singing.

    Baa, baa, black sheep

    Have you any wool?

    Yes sir, yes sir,

    Three bags full.

    One for my master,

    And one for the dame,

    And one for the little girl

    Who lives down the lane.

    Traditional Song (Author Unknown)

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    Money

    Invite the children to play bakery in the dramatic play area. Sing this song to attract customers and don't forget the play money so the children can buy and sell their pretend baked goods.

    Hot cross buns!

    Hot cross buns!

    One a penny, two a penny,

    Hot cross buns.

    Traditional Song (Author Unknown)

    These are just a few songs you can use to teach your preschool class numbers. Do you have other new ideas for presenting numbers in the classroom? If so, be sure to visit the comments section below.

References