Children learn best through play, ESPECIALLY when it comes to learning about abstract concepts such as math! I am a former preschool teacher who is now homeschooling her TK son, and I have found the best way to teach math is by making it come to life. Young children need to see the numbers and concepts concretely and physically to understand them.
Here is a list of 10 toys that will help your child learn more about numbers and math all through play!
The most important thing we can do for our children's education at this age is consistent exposure. Try not to focus on if they are "getting it" and instead be consistent in finding fun ways to expose them to the subjects they are learning.
Montessori toys like these are timeless, due to their simple designs and bright colors. Not only does this ring stacking and counting toy provide a visual for children learning how to add or subtract, but it also incorporates other math skills such as matching, comparing, and problem-solving.
As a former preschool teacher, one of the skills we worked on with our TK students was teaching them to count to 100. This board provides a fun and colorful way to do this. What children need at this age is exposure: The more you expose them to a concept, the more they will retain it. There may be days where it seems like they can't even count to 20, but with consistent exposure (and lots of patience), it will click with them one day! This board aids children in counting, number recognition, color recognition, sorting, matching and patterns.
Do you remember these from your childhood? There is a reason why these have stood the test of time! They help teach counting (1-100), one-to-one correspondence, comparison, skip counting, groups of tens, the concept of measurement, addition, subtraction, color identification, matching, patterning, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Pattern block sets help children in classic math manipulatives. They aid in color recognition, shape recognition, hand-eye coordination, patterning, spatial awareness, matching and problem-solving. This set's puzzles are fun and engaging for the child while helping them with the above math skills.
Kids love imaginative and pretend play! Having a play cash register with play money will teach them about real-world experiences, the concept of cash, counting, subtracting, adding, and problem-solving, all while being fun and interactive.
Here is another classic that has stood the test of time. Counting bears go over so much more than counting! They can be visual when learning addition and subtraction and can be used for sorting, color matching, and pattern building.
Counting sticks cover the same concepts as counting bears, but this specific toy is what you will see in a Montessori classroom. This set also comes with wood numbers to create simple math problems while using the sticks to represent each number visually.
This game has three different levels, so it can continue to grow with your child as they become more comfortable in their numbers and arithmetic. The cute bear and balancing scale will stimulate your child's curiosity, too.
Here is yet another classic toy that will always be around! Why? Well, abacuses help young children concretely understand numbers. They can see how they got to the answer they did. It is hard for young kids to understand abstract concepts. Abacuses are physical, which helps the child visualize numbers and how they function rather than rely on memorization.
Learning how to count and group things by tens can be a very abstract concept to young children. This magnetic board makes it easy for a child to see and understand the process. These boards help easily explain addition, subtraction, base-ten concepts, and place value!
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