Reflecting on the math concepts shared through this training:
What are you already naturally doing with children in care?
Where can you take more opportunities to expand math learning opportunities?
What might some barriers be? Possible solutions?
Part of bringing math forward in your program is your ability to communicate to the child’s family about the importance of developing early math concepts and how you are doing that. Whenever possible provide them with knowledge that they can use to support their child within their home environment.
If you begin to look at math as it connects to science you might find yourself thinking about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and wondering how that larger picture fits into an infant/toddler program. In this training we are not focusing on learning from the STEM direction, however, if you bring math forward you will also naturally be bringing the Science and Engineering along.
“T- technology” is the most concerning for many providers because it immediately raises the thought of “screen time.” However, technology is more than computers, smartphones, and other devices. By true definition for any age level, technology is anything that has been created by humans. So, crayons, paints, paper, scissors, markers, playdough, cardboard, blocks, etc. can be considered the technological focus for infant and toddler programs.
Wow, we’re teaching STEM in our infant/toddler programs!
First and foremost – Math is more than number awareness
Math skills in toddlers ~
- Measurement: understand comparative words
- Numeracy: recite number sequences
- Pattern and shape: match basic shapes
- Classification: basic categorization
- Representation: understand numbers mean “how many”
- Estimation: experiments with size by filling containers
Math skills from age 2-3 ~
- Measurement: compare two objects by size, height, etc.
- Numeracy: counting up to 20 and accurately counting items in a group
- Pattern and shape: recognize shapes and patterns in the world
- Classification: sort objects by shape, color, etc.
- Representation: understands that numerals stand for number names
- Estimation: understands “small” vs “large” numbers (1 vs 100)
News You Can Use: Supporting Early Math Learning for Infants and Toddlers / HeadStart/ECLKC Early Learning and Knowledge Center – School Readiness page or PDF version: News You Can Use: Supporting Early Math Learning for Infants and Toddlers
Community Playthings Rethinking Infant curriculum, article 1 / article 2
Some additional activity ideas:
String Shapes: This activity supports learning about geometry and exploring shapes. Children learn about the features of different shapes as they outline the shapes with string.
- Materials: Paper & markers, shoelace, yarn or string about 20 inches long (I loved chunky yarn for this).
- Instructions: Provider draws out large shapes on sheets of paper. To have as a go to activity that can be easily self directed laminate the paper with the pre drawn shapes. You can also use heavy recycled cardboard. Your drawn shape can be true geometric shapes or an irregular shape like a squiggly circle. Demonstrate for the children how to place the lace or string along following the shape’s outline. If you do some irregular shapes you get to talk about curvy and straight lines.
Matching Game: Supports learning about geometry and matching similar shapes.
- Materials: Paper & markers, cookie cuts, or mix of different shaped blocks.
- Instruction: Provider traces the shapes on paper/recycled cardboard (again you can laminate for longer usage). Child matches items to the traced shape. These tracings can have just 1 or 2 items or you can fill the paper. It all depends on the development level of the children in care.
Going on a Hunt: This activity supports counting, adaptable for count in order (1, 2, 3, and so on) for older toddlers.
- Materials: 12 choke safe items that fit in an egg carton, at least 1 egg carton, but if you have an older group do 12 items per egg carton per child
- Instructions: Number the cups of the egg carton from 1 to 12. Hide the items around the room. Using an empty numbered egg carton, the child finds the hidden items filling the egg carton cups up. You can let children just fill as they like or for older ones fill in order from 1 to 12., maybe calling the number out to you as they fill it. This activity can also be more active if you hold the egg carton and the child needs to bring the found item to you. This also allows for multiple children to play together using just one carton.
Play with shape-sorters. Talk about each shape as handled.
- Materials: Make your own shape sorter game using items you have on hand and cutting out a corresponding opening in a recycled box. A shoe box works really well for this. If you have multiple matching shoe boxes, just save the lids and make different shape openings in each lid. Switch the lids out for different play opportunities.
Shape Hop: Make your own shapes by cutting large shapes out of any material on hand, such as: colored construction paper, recycled cardboard, carpet remnants. How you play is limited by your imagination and developmental level of the children. Ask child to “hop on the circle”;“jump over the red triangle”; “sit on…”; “circle around….”
Gather together a basket of choke tested small items. Count them with your child. Sort them based on size, color, or what they do (i.e., all the cars in one pile – all the animals in another, collected shells work great for size comparison sorting) .
Walks give children opportunities to compare (which stone is bigger?), assess (how many acorns did we find?), note similarities and differences (does the duck have fur like the bunny does?) and categorize (see if you can find some red leaves). You can also talk about size (by taking big and little steps), estimate distance (is the park close to our house or far away?), and practice counting (let’s count how many steps until we get to the corner). Walks like this can happen inside as well as outside. They can be individual or group. They can be long or really short.
And don’t forget to include printed numbers in any print shared in your environment.
Encourage infants/toddlers in your care to see the numbers all around them. This is how we’ll give them the best start we can and also raise a generation that thinks math is cool!
Infant Toddler Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (ITMELDS)
Every program in Maine should have a copy of the ITMELDS available for providers working with infants. The ITMELDS align with the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) for three- to five-year-olds. You can download a PDF from this link. Math is covered under “Cognitive Development” which starts on page 63 in the current version.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – CDC Milestones
- Milestone checklists translated into other languages
- Print the milestone checklists (PDF)
- Milestones in Action videos
- Download the Milestone Tracker mobile app
Complete a checklist using the Digital Online Checklist
For your training certificate please complete the correct Reflection Activity: Member Reflection Activity form OR Non-member Reflection Activity form