Teaching math to toddlers can easily be incorporated into everyday happenings using easy-to-find materials that engage children’s interests. For young children, learning math does not take place at a desk but rather during everyday events happening in their lives. Most of our days are full of mathematical problems children can solve.
Two basic mathematical skills that can easily be incorporated into your lesson plans for toddlers are number sense and numeration. What is number sense and numeration? Number sense is the awareness that numbers help us organize our day-to-day lives to accomplish the things we want to do. For example, it’s better to have two cookies at snack, rather than one, especially if you’re hungry. Numeration is just a big word for counting. From ages two to three, toddler counting takes the form of moving objects around randomly. If a child were playing with blocks, there would be no effort to sort, sequence, or organize them.
You can help teach these skills through meaningful play opportunities. Two-year-olds love their toys and the more you can play games that involve their toys, the more they will enjoy it. An easy way to teach counting with toys is to sit on the floor with your toddler and put some toys in front of you. Start sorting the toys by color and talk about how many items you’ve sorted. Children this age learn best through repetition so be sure to repeat activities like this one multiple times. You can vary the game by sorting by size, color or characteristics.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to teach counting to toddlers, pick up a copy of one of our most popular math books for toddlers, 125 Brain Games for Toddlers and Twos. Packed with research-based activities, you’ll be able to turn everyday explorations into powerful learning opportunities.