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What an incredible coincidence! My little toddler just flips over Happy Baby Puffs and he noticed that mommy just happens to have a whole box of them in different flavors (superfoods to the rescue!) to use in our mini Math lesson today! Do you ever plan ahead and prepare to enrich the life of your toddler with fun and engaging lessons about Math? If you do, great! Give yourself a pat on the back right now, momma! Those extra steps to prepare our little ones for their life ahead filled with twists and turns and lots and lots of math, are vital stepping stones to their future success! I’ve got three kids that are all excellent at math and I know it’s partly because of early, purposeful lessons to kickstart their love for math, and to give them a strong understanding of many of its principles. Another great trick is to understand with toddlers that anything that is crafty or food related is a motivator to learning!
Bingo Dauber Addition
In my experience there have been a large number of times when the most simple, colorful and basic activities created the most joy with my toddlers. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to giving your child a strong foundation in math skills. Start with the basics. Begin by providing a couple of printed worksheets, a blank piece of paper, and a choice of two colors of bingo daubers.
Do NOT offer them the entire box of colors to use or choose from. Two choices are best to keep things simple and to not introduce something that will distract them later. On these worksheets, let them start with one bingo dauber color and tell them to make one dot. Take your pencil and write a plus symbol next to it on their paper. Now ask them to make another dot on the other side of the plus symbol. Write an equals sign next to it and draw a blank. Ask your toddler how many 1 dot plus 1 dot equals. If they answer correctly, try to teach them how to recognize the number 2 by drawing a 2 on the line. Now ask them to put 2 dots next to the number two. You may continue this exercise switching up using 1 to 4 dots to equal up to 5. I do not recommend going higher than five at this age as we are focusing on building a firm foundation at this time with the basics. Let them master Addition with 1-5 first.
Learning To Read A Clock
The starting phase of learning to tell time begins with teaching your child how to read the numbers on a clock. They need to be able to recognize numbers 1-12. You can utilize some cute printable pages for use with bingo daubers to encourage your child to count from 1-12 using the bingo dauber. These worksheets are easy to create if you don’t have a way to print your own. I suggest creating a large circle like a clock on a piece of white paper and drawing twelve small circles in the spots you would normally find numbers on a clock, then draw the numbers 1-12 inside them. Now ask your child to put a dauber mark on each spot going in order from 1-12. Have your child speak out loud saying each number as they place the dot on it. Have several copies of these ready to go if possible in order to fully utilize this practice session.
Next, take away the bingo daubers and put them out of site. Now bring out one of your pre-made “clocks” and set it in front of your toddler along with a small container holding a handful of those Happy Puffs (or some other small, safe snack) we mentioned earlier in this post. Encourage your toddler to place a Happy Puff on each number starting with 1 while announcing each number out loud as they count to 12. When they successfully complete this task, reward them by saying they can now eat the Happy Puffs one at a time while they repeat counting 1-12 (taking time to chew in between).
At this point, you can begin drawing hands on the clock and start teaching your child to read time. Start off slow, only focused on explaining the big hand (or minute hand) is on the 12 which means “O’clock”, and the little hand tells us what hour the time is such as “3” O’clock. Do not try to teach them different minutes until they master reading the hour. You can place two small pretzel sticks as the line for the hands, and then show them how to move the hour hand to another number to change the time to a different hour such as from 4 to 5.
Introducing Even and Odd Numbers
It’s a delightful experience to witness your toddler beginning to master some great basic math skills, isn’t it? Teaching the lessons of even and odd numbers can be an easy feat if you wish to pull out the bingo daubers or Happy puffs again. Have one of the worksheets with the clock and numbers 1-12 on it placed in front of your toddler on the table. Give them two daubers to choose from, but only “light” colors such as yellow, pink, or light green, so they don’t cover up the numbers underneath too much. You can ask your child to switch dauber colors by making them
do odd numbers one color, and even colors the other color for more advanced practice in math and color recognition. After they’ve finished that task, ask them which color they used to cover the even numbers. Now ask which color they used to cover the odd numbers. Have them point out the colors and say the numbers out loud for even or odd as you practice. You can utilize this same concept with different flavors of Happy Puffs or whatever other safe snack you wish to try using as the place-holder on the odd or even numbers.
Knowing your child is gaining helpful math knowledge, eating safe snacks, and gaining fine motor control as they place the puffs on the numbers or dot the numbers, can be a very rewarding thought indeed! Keep up the great work as you encourage your toddler through many other craft activities and projects to be actively learning new math concepts along the way as they grow into Preschoolers. Here is a list of some other helpful craft or activity items you can pick up to continue developing those math and fine motor skills every week:
Counting Bears with Matching Sorting Cups
Wooden Peg Puzzles for Toddlers
My Numbers, Colors and Shapes Toddler Coloring Book
Wooden Pattern Blocks Animals Jigsaw Puzzle Sorting and Stacking Games
Wood Sorting Puzzles Toys
Toddler Fine Motor Skills Toy
Learning with a toddler can be so much fun! I hope I gave you some great ideas, let me know how much your little one enjoys them.