Math activities with preschoolers should be simple, concrete, hands-on learning. Manipulating and counting objects helps preschoolers develop an understanding of quantity. They begin to learn what “three” means and that “three” is a smaller quantity than “five.” Kids need these types of experiences before they can begin to understand the numeral symbols used to represent them. These two math games utilize important math tools and are perfect for your valentine theme.
Valentine Counting Number Line
A number line is an important tool to use in math learning activities. What is a number line? A number line is a group of linear spaces numbered sequentially. As children build a number line or count on a it, they can begin to see relationships of numbers to one another. For example, “I must go two spaces to move from seven to nine.” They begin to see the sequence of numbers and they can develop one-to-one correspondence as they move an object on each space of a number line or touch each space as they count. This valentine number line is easy to make and easy to use!
Set Up the Game
- Foam or paper hearts
- Game pieces (we used counting bears)
- Numbered cube
Write one numeral (1-10) on each of the hearts with the marker. Put the hearts in order in a line on a large table or on the floor. Place the numbered cube and game pieces nearby.
Play the Game
Children will roll the cube, identify the number represented by the dots on the die, and move their game piece that many hearts on the number line. Ask children to identify the number they landed on. Continue until a player reaches the end of the number line.
While moving along the number line, children will practice counting skills, one-to-one correspondence, and number recognition. They will need to count each heart on the number line on one by one. When they land on one of the numbered hearts, they identify it.
Because the game moves very quickly, we like to play several rounds. As you can see, this simple game is jam-packed with learning! I love that we can easily pull it out at any time and play a few rounds. After you have used the game as a group, place the game in a center for kids to set up and play independently.
Play Dough Mat Ten Frames for Preschool
Another useful tool for math lesson plans is the ten frame. What is a ten frame? This is a grid of two rows of 5 squares, making a total of ten. A preschooler begins to develop an understanding of the quantity 10 and parts of 10. Why is this important? Our numerical system is based on the number 10. Developing a solid understanding of 10 will be a strong math foundation for preschoolers. Placing objects in a ten frame helps a child see relationships–3 objects plus 7 spaces make 10. He won’t vocalize that but the concepts are built as he practices over and over. Also preschoolers develop understanding among other numbers up to 10. If he has one play dough ball on the frame and needs a total of four, he can figure out to add three more balls. It’s play and it’s math!
Set Up the Game
- Valentine Play Dough Counting Mats or other ten frames
- Play dough – Why not make Chocolate Play Dough?
- Heart Shaped Box and tongs (optional)
Play the Game
As an optional start to the game, invite preschoolers to roll balls of the chocolate play dough (or whatever play dough you have) and place the balls in the heart box.
Invite the children to choose a play dough mat. They can place the correct number of balls in the frame on each mat. Provide tongs for the preschoolers to transfer balls from the box to the mat and back again. This will help develop fine motor skills as well as math skills.
For more ideas, check out these counting activities for preschoolers!
Number Line Game contributed by Danielle of Mom Inspired Life.