Math Games for Your Toddler

Eight easy games that can build your toddler's math skills.

From around the age of two, your child is developmentally ready to understand the one-to-one relationship between a numeral and objects, knowing, for instance, that two is more than one. To help prepare your child for a true understanding of math:

  1. Count Together: Counting fingers and toes from one to ten is particularly fun when accompanied by rhymes such as "one, two, buckle my shoe."
  2. Sort Objects: Helping your child put things in like categories aids in his understanding of groups. For instance, have him separate his toy cars from his toy airplanes and then count how many are in each group.
  3. Set the Table: Setting one plate (preferably non-breakable) for one person, two cups for two people, and so on helps your toddler learn important math skills.
  4. Name Shapes: The naming of shapes is fundamental to your child's understanding of math. Play a game of finding squares and circles in your house or on outings. Show how triangles can fit together to make a square.
  5. Teach Spatial Relationships: Play games that require your child to understand the concept of near and far or under and over. Let him practice learning such concepts as volume and quantity by filling cups and bowls with water or sand and transferring contents from one container to another.
  6. Compare Sizes: Ask your child to find his big bear and his little doll. Line up his trucks from smallest to largest. Play a game in which your child stretches to be as big as he can be and then curls up to make himself tiny.
  7. Teach Patterns: Let your child arrange blocks in alternating color or shape patterns.
  8. Use Math Concept Words: Phrases that denote quantity, like "a lot" and "a few," begin to take on meaning when used in everyday conversations.

From The Parents Book of Lists: From Birth to Age Three, by the editors of Parents magazine with Marge Kennedy. Copyright © 2000

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