Math Exploration Kits for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Young children benefit greatly when they have engaging interactions with caregivers and access to age appropriate objects and materials that support math concepts such as counting, measuring, comparisons, familiarity with written numbers, and shape/color recognition skills.

Caregivers can include “math talk” when engaging with very young children to support mathematical concepts by simply highlighting the mathematical concepts and mathematical vocabulary in their everyday experiences. Simple interactions such as (i) counting steps as you go up or down, (ii) talking about how things are the same or different, or (iii) pointing out that they have half a cookie helps to support mathematical development in young children.

Objects that allow young children to experiment with size, quantity and shape help develop mathematical understanding that is the foundation for later adding, subtracting, and problem solving. Materials and activities are appropriate when they are well suited to a child’s abilities, encourage exploration, and capture a child’s interest.

Adults can support mathematical development by purposefully incorporating math into a child’s routine, daily schedule, outings, and play. For example, setting the table and cooking meals provide real life opportunities to count and measure. A trip to the grocery store is an opportunity to compare, count, discuss shapes, and talk about money.

 

Children can learn to group and classify objects when they help with the laundry. Getting dressed in the morning is a great way to learn about a sequence and patterns. Count the number of buttons on a sweater or talk about what we mean when we talk about a pair of socks.

Math is such an integral part of a child’s day – highlight math and incorporate “math talk” in everyday activities. It will make a difference.

An infant math exploration kit might include:

  • Knob puzzles that do not interlock depicting shapes or other objects

  • Shaped rattles

  • Number/shape books

  • Shape sorter

  • Toy phones (with #’s on a keypad)

  • Foam blocks

  • Nesting cups

  • Stacking rings

  • Infant toys that make music or sounds

  • Ball

  • Board books

  • Everyday objects which are alike and different for sorting and classifying

A toddler math exploration kit might include:

  • 3-5 large piece interlocking puzzles

  • Large sorting objects (may sort by size color, shape, texture etc.)

  • Toy cash register

  • Magnetic numbers

  • Board books

  • Large rulers (such as height chart)/tape measure

  • Items used to scoop and pour

  • Shaped rattles

  • Number/shape books

  • Shape sorter

  • Blocks

  • Toy phones

  • Nesting cups

  • Stacking rings

  • Everyday objects which are alike and different for sorting and classifying

The information on this page is from:

Clifford, Cryer, Harms (2005) Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS). Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

A preschool math exploration kit might include:

  • 5-25-piece puzzle with interlocking pieces

  • Balance scales

  • Rulers

  • Number puzzles

  • Number games such as dominos

  • Dice

  • Abacus

  • Geometric shapes (Parquetry blocks)

  • Numbered peg boards

  • Sorting objects (may sort by size color, shape, texture etc.)

  • Blocks

  • Books

  • Toy cash register

  • Stringing beads

  • Magnetic numbers

  • Large rulers (such as height chart)/tape measure

  • Clock

  • Timer

  • Tangrams

  • Items used to scoop and pour

  • Play money

  • Board games

 

 

California Early Math Project 2020