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10 Easy & Fun Ways to Promote Math Skills
By Carolyn Tomlin

There are countless ways to promote math skills inside and outside the classroom, even in winter! The following activity ideas make teaching math easy for you – and fun for the children.


1. Patterning

Using a large darning needle (be sure to properly supervise the children), thread popcorn and cranberries on a strong thread as a treat for winter birds. Encourage the children to thread two berries, three popcorn kernels, two berries, etc. Alternate the patterns to enhance math skills. Place your berry/popcorn garland on a tree near a window to allow children to see the birds eat their tasty treat.


On snowy days, make tracks in the snow. Invite the children to hop, run, or skip through the snow. Talk about how the tracks/patterns are different for each activity. Suggest that the children make snow angels by laying in the snow and moving their arms to represent wings. How are the patterns alike or different?


2. Sorting

Promote sorting activities in the classroom by providing a large bowl of mixed dried beans. Give each child an egg carton and sort like beans in sections. Use caution when conducting this activity with very young children as beans may be put in nose or ears.


Place everyone’s mittens or hats in a box. Ask the children to sort the items according to color or style.


3. Numbers

At circle time, practice counting the days in a month, or the number of sunny, rainy, or snowy days.


During your morning circle time, survey the children to find out how many ate cereal for breakfast, have buttons on their shirt, or zippers on their clothes.


4. Shapes

Go on a shape hunt. Take the children on a tour of your classroom or playground to find different shapes. Examples include: doorframe – rectangle, swing set – triangle, table –circle. Use a digital camera to record the shapes found. Print off the photos and create a “Look at the Shapes We Found” bulletin board.


5. One-to-One Relationships

During snack time, ask the snack helper to give each child one napkin or one cookie. 


If using rug squares for small group time, ask each child to choose one square and sit down.


6. Measuring

On a snowy day, fill a large pan with snow and place on a plastic sheet. Provide cups of various sizes for the children to measure the snow. What happens when the snow melts? Do the children have more or less? 


Measure a variety of objects using standard and non-standard forms of measurement, i.e., large paper clips, index cards, or pencils. 


7. Time

Make individual clocks using paper plates, a brad, and card stock hands. Write the numerals 1-12 on the clock’s face. 


Write the time for each event in the classroom, such as lunch, snacks, and parent pickups. 


8. Geometric Shapes

Cut scraps of discarded construction paper into circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. Guide preschoolers to form pictures from these shapes. Could these shapes become a train, house, or animal?


9. Temperature 

Check outdoor temperature at the same time each day. Record  on a large calendar. Compare the high and low temperature for the week.


Place a thermometer in a refrigerator and near a heating vent. Record the temperature. Ask the children to predict which will be warmer or cooler?


10. Weight

Provide scales and objects to weigh in a learning center. Invite the children to weigh cups or small containers of water, sand, feathers, rice, etc. Which of these items weighs the most? 






Carolyn R. Tomlin, M.Ed., Jackson, TN has taught kindergarten and early childhood education at Union University. She writes for numerous educational publications.