Does your child
enjoy searching for hidden objects by following clues? You can help
him learn the vocabulary of math by giving him clues that include
words that describe an object’s location. Following clues that
point to a specific location helps your child build skills he will
need later in life to create and use maps.
Math is much more than numbers and
calculations. Math is also about language. When you talk with your
child, it is important to introduce and reinforce the vocabulary of
math. Vocabulary that helps your child understand where objects are
in space—words that define an object’s location or the
direction of an object in motion—prepares a child for learning
to read a map or a graph. Position and direction vocabulary includes
words and phrases such as up, down, under, over, next to, on top
of, right, left, behind,
and in front of.
Mapping skills, following directions
3-6 year olds
Take It Further
As you go about your daily life, be
conscious of the words you use when talking with your child about
where things are. Pepper your conversation with words and phrases
that describe an object’s position in space. At the dinner
table, don’t just ask your child to “pass the salt.”
Ask him to “pass the salt that is next to
pitcher.” As your child gets dressed in the morning ask him to
get his shoes that are under
the bed or a shirt from inside
his closet. As you prepare a meal, ask your child to get the bowl
that is on top of
the cabinet, a spoon that is in
drawer, or a cup that is beside
the toaster. Ask your child
who lives next door
to you and across
How to Do It:
- Print out the picture of the Thinga-ma-jigger carrying the Cat, Sally, and Nick.
- Ask your child to color the picture.
- Glue the printout to a piece of heavy paper. Once the glue has dried, cut out the picture. Now you are ready to play Thinga-ma-jigger Hide-and-Seek!
- Tell your child that the Thinga-ma-jigger will "fly" around the backyard (or the house or a nearby park) and land in different places.
- Ask your child
to close his eyes while the Thinga-ma-jigger flies to its first
landing spot. Place the Thinga-ma-jigger on a bush, in a tree, on a
piece of lawn furniture, or on the ground next to one of these
- Lead your child
to the Thinga-ma-jigger’s location by giving him verbal clues
such as It is next to a tree, It is between a tree
and a bush, It is under a chair, It is on top of a
table, or It is behind the bird bath.
- When your child
finds it, congratulate him and reinforce the vocabulary by saying,
“Great job! You found the Thinga-ma-jigger under that
Note: This activity can also be done by hiding a small toy or other object.
You can continue the fun by challenging your child to take his turn hiding the Thinga-ma-jigger and then leading you to it with verbal clues. This will give your child an opportunity to practice the vocabulary he just learned.
The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Over, Under & Through by Tana Hoban
The Thinga-ma-jigger Is Coming Today! by Tish Rabe; illustrated by Christopher Moroney
Position vocabulary: around, beneath, above, below, beside,
in front of, behind, next to, on top of, under, over.
Play the Beehive & Seek game on PBS KIDS