IEL Tip Sheet: Things to Do While You’re Waiting: Math About
Its happening again! Youre running errands with your children and suddenly youre stuckin traffic, at the clinic, in the checkout line. Many parents find that playful learning activities can help reduce childrens impatience when they have to wait.
You can use waiting time to show your child that Math = Part of Life.
Math is much more than just counting, adding, and subtracting! Playing with math concepts helps children become confident mathematical thinkers. Here are some quick math questions, games, and activities to engage a child who has to wait.
Use objects to help your child learn that each item we count corresponds to a number. Lets put one can of beans on top of each cereal box. Ask each other questions like How many trucks do you see? "How many people are ahead of us in line, and how many will there be once the front person leaves?" Children also like action rhymes that involve counting.
Sequences and patterns Order is important in math. Notice sequences with your child: Looks like were the second in line! Find simple patterns togetherthe colors of floor tiles or the rhythms of people walking. Invite your child to make visual patterns using small objects around you.
Classifying This means sorting things according to different properties. Make a game of sorting objects with your child, such as coins or laundry. Or you might suggest, Lets find all the people with hats or Ill spot red cars and you spot cars in your favorite color.
Spatial relations This has to do with shapes and locations of objects. You can hunt for shapes together: squares, triangles, rectangles, and circles. Use words like on,under, and inside to describe where you see the shapes. Drawing shapes in the air can also be fun.
Estimation and predictions Children often like to make educated guesses. Will our laundry fit in two washers? Which is higher, a stack of five pennies or five dimes? "How can you tell?" Make a guess first, and then check to see how close your guess came.
Measurement and time
Investigate measurement together. How many hands tall is this jar? Which is heavier, your coat or your boot? How many steps to the car? Your child may like timing games: How many times can you count to 10 before we are first in line? "How long can you stand on one leg?"
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