Great Ideas for Math and Science in Preschool

The folks at the National Institute for Early Education Research presented a great workshop at the NAEYC national conference in Washington DC in November 2009. The title was “Beyond Calendars and Today’s Weather” and focuses on improving the quality of Math and Science experiences for young children. They recently made the information from this workshop available as on online PDF.

Check it out! It’s easy to read and full of photographs of activity ideas and great information for preschool teachers. Use it to make the most of math and science opportunities in your classroom.

Remember, all of WoWKits Terrific Topics preschool units also have wonderful and creative hands-on math and science activities too!

The Mingling of Music and Math

Today Bug attended her first music class. It is called “Instrument Explorations”. It is designed to teach 4-6 year olds some of the basics of music with the idea that down the road, if they choose to play an instrument, they will have some sort of knowledge. The class description says they will be introduced the the keyboard and recorder, but what I found after joining Bug for her first day is that it is teaching her a lot of math concepts. Today they explored:

  • right/left (high hand/low hand)
  • counting (identifying fingers by number, counting keys)
  • patterns (rhythm, black and white keys)
  • grouping (piano keys as they are arranged)
  • comparisons (high/low, fast/slow, two-key vs. three-key groups)

And that was just the first day! I had heard about the connections between math and music before, but never had I seen it so clearly. After some quick online searches, here are some resources I found that further explore the topic.

Quick overview of a variety of math concepts and how they relate to music (all ages)

Article: Music and Math, How Do We Make the Connection for Preschool? (Childcare Information Exchange)

Article: The Effect of Music Enriched Instruction... created/researched by a Canadian Montessori school

For an easy way to bring music exploration to your infant or toddler, check out World of Wonder’s Music with Little Ones Kit or Experience Binder and remember, all of our preschool and kindergarten curriculum binders include a section on music activities.

Teaching Math- It’s as Easy as Pie!

Do you get nervous at the thought of teaching math, even though the kids you are working with are just getting the hang of counting? You are not alone. Many early childhood teachers report feeling uncomfortable with math. But think about it…math is everywhere! We use it comfortably every day. Here’s a quick list of some common every day math experiences:

  • measuring out spoonfuls of coffee
  • watching time pass on the clock
  • matching your socks
  • marking the date on the calendar
  • noticing the weight of your book bag

Teaching math to young children can be as simple as pointing out some of these experiences as you come across them. Here is an excerpt from a Child Care Information Exchange article about teaching math:

Math is about manipulating things: objects, shapes, concepts, and relationships; reproducing and documenting the world; and constructing, building, and estimating….Thus, we must provide a myriad of opportunities for young children to have direct, concrete experiences in the real world. What is the value of discussing the speed of light if you don’t understand light? Seeing snow accumulate day after day is a real way to understanding increase in quantity. Carrying a large boulder teaches about mass; swinging on a rope about force, angles, and speed. Field trips, extensive classroom projects, exploration in nature, extensive use of the playground, observing the weather, etc., must all be central to our math curricula.

Another way to demystify teaching math is to think about the different intelligences. Explore numbers through song, compare weights by moving objects across the room. Challenge a group of children to work together to build a castle with unit blocks or solve a big floor puzzle. Math is woven in to every day life, so use every day experiences to help engage children in mathematical thinking. It’s as easy as slicing pie!