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Fun with Preschool Math

These past two years I’ve had the privilege to work with my  4-turned-5 year old. I love working with young kiddos when they’re being introduced to math for the first time! They’re still at that stage where math is not a dirty word, and they’re pretty open to learning new concepts. Preschool math can and should be fun! Here are some ideas to get you started.


We bought a few math workbooks from Cotsco and even purchased the Math U See curriculum- which we love– but there’s nothing like bringing in some extra lovin’, practical, and hands-on fun when introducing numbers to our little ones.

 Here are a few ideas of manipulatives and games we use to make learning math fun for the preschool years.

Counting Chips

These circular chips come in sets of different colors, which makes it easy to form all sorts of activities and games to do with them.



Sometimes I line up two different colors of chips (say, orange and yellow) side by side, ten in each row, and I have my daughter count each row separately (equaling 10).

Then I have her total them (equaling 20).

Lastly, I teach her to skip count by 2’s. Somehow it seems to make more visual sense to her when using two different colors of manipulatives.

Another fun thing to do with these chips is to create geometric shapes with them.  With many circular chips we can form a brand new circle, a triangle, or a square.

So now we’ve taught geometry and basic math skills with one set of manipulatives.

Building Blocks

With blocks, you can continue with the concepts of geometry (building a triangle, square, or rectangle).  I especially like the geometric blocks that allow kids to create shapes from half circles, triangles, and rectangles.

Using a half circle, my daughter learns that two halves make a whole.  Placing two small triangle blocks together, she creates a square.


Counting Bears

Counting bears come in a pack with sets of different colors and matching cups for each set.  There are a variety of ways to use these bears in math lessons.

countingbears1 Usually I’ll have my daughter sort the bears into their matching colored cups at first, and then we name the colors.

Next, we might count the number of bears per color category. (I swap some out so the numbers will vary for each color).  We practice counting totals.


Lastly, we begin learning to add and subtract with the bears. (Again, I swap out some bears from one group and add to another and have her recount the sets).


Manipulatives with Flash Cards

We like to use wooden logs (like Lincoln logs), pom poms, coins, as well as other types of manipulatives to learn our basic math skills.  We also print, laminate, and cut out shapes for manipulatives.  If we pair these up with flash cards, we have an even more potent math lesson.


Placing an addition flash card beside a set of manipulatives and asking my child to construct “1 plus 2” means that she not only sees the addition problem visually on the card, but she now must also translate the problem with her wooden logs.

So she sets out one log on the right, and two on the left. I have her say “1 plus 2.” Then I have her smoosh them together and say “equals 3.”

Math has soon become a fun past time in our home, and we always look forward to “math games” together.  I hope these few preschool math ideas are helpful.  Enjoy counting with your kids! And be sure to share your own fun math ideas with us! We’d love to hear from you. 

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  1. These are great ideas for visual/kinetic learners. You definitely make it fun! I will for sure be using some of your tips! I have considered Math-U-See but am still doing Saxon…Saxon is not so appealing to the eyes but we have used it because it has a lot of repetition. Does Math-U-See do a lot of review?

    1. Thanks, Heather- my daughter really enjoys the “games” 🙂
      I started with Math U See, then switched to Saxon in 3rd grade (for my oldest)- so from that perspective I’d say both programs have their pros. (I’ve since switched out of Saxon). My daughter LOVES the once a week video with Mr. Demme explaining the concepts, and she completes about 4 problems a day. Each week a different concept is introduced building upon the previous lesson, but it’s more of a mastery program than spiral (like Saxon). So not as much review- although you can get more on the MUS website where they have a lot of online math drills.

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