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Back to Early Math Symposium June 2024

Nurturing Latine Children's Early Math Skills through Meaningful Play

In this presentation, I review the three-part formula of the Playful Learning Landscapes initiative that integrates the science of how children learn with the skills that children need in the 21st century and community input to increase playful opportunities that facilitate learning. Furthermore, I provide examples of how our team at the University of California Irvine has used this model for early math learning across two contexts in the Santa Ana community.


First, we worked with Latine families to co-design playful installations for everyday community spaces – parks, grocery stores, bus stops – that merge their cultural values and practices with early math learning goals. Secondly, we collaborate with Latine teachers to co-design soccer-based schoolyard games that incorporate a walkable number line, ensuring alignment with Common Core Standards for early elementary students.

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Bermudez Original Headshot - Vanessa Noemy Bermudez.jpg

Vanessa N. Bermudez

I am a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at the University of California Irvine. I previously earned an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from San Jose State University and a B.S. in Psychology from Duke University. My research interests focus on harnessing the funds of knowledge of Latine, immigrant, and low-income communities to promote early STEM learning and motivation. To achieve this goal, I employ community-based design research methodologies in close partnership with families and teachers to support students’ positive math trajectories across the home, school, and community contexts. Through this approach, I aim to co-create meaningful and playful environments that merge learning principles with Latine families’ values and practices. My research also entails evaluating these co-designed educational artifacts using experimental designs, complemented by a qualitative approach to estimate causal impacts and uncover valuable insights into their effectiveness and limitations. Such evaluations inform future iterations and ensure continuous improvement. My goal is to better understand the multifaceted factors that contribute to optimal playful environments that support learning and help instill positive attitudes toward STEM content areas from an early age, particularly in underrepresented students.

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