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Give Me Five: Supporting Two-Generation Early Math Learning Through Guided Play

A growing body of research highlights the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral benefits of play. While studies show that play promotes literacy and social emotional development, the results are most marked in the area of early math, where guided play has been shown to be more effective than instruction at helping children master key concepts and skills. 

At Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, we have developed Give Me Five Math, a playgroup curriculum that builds on this research to make math more accessible to children and families, especially those in communities that are farthest from opportunity. Consisting of five sessions that are intentionally designed to look and feel like play time, Give Me Five Math promotes children’s skills while building adults’ understanding and capacity to orchestrate playful early math learning experiences. 

In this session, we will share an overview of Give Me Five math curriculum, describe the structure of a playgroup session, and introduce participants to sample activities and concrete strategies for integrating math into play and daily routines at home and school. 


Cecilia Valdez holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from CSU East Bay and has over 15 years of experience in the field as an educator and administrator. She brings expertise in designing and implementing curriculum that helps educators, parents, and nonprofit staff deepen their understanding of early literacy, social-emotional learning, math, trauma-informed practices, and more. Cecilia is currently a Community Learning Specialist at Tandem where she is thrilled to work in her native Bay Area partnering with children, families, educators and the community to promote early learning.

Cecilia Valdez

Brenda Gardner supports children, families, and educators by designing bilingual curriculum, facilitating playgroups and family workshops, and building partnerships with families, educators, and community-based organizations to promote children’s learning. Brenda enjoys creating curriculum that is inclusive and equitable, that meets families and educators where they are, as they are. Brenda holds a BA in Sociology from Colorado State University, a Family Development Credential from University of Connecticut, and a certificate of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Brenda has over 12 years of experience working with children and families and has been a classroom educator herself. Brenda is currently a Program Supervisor at Tandem, Partners in Early Learning where she focuses on Curriculum and Evaluation.

Brenda Gardner

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