When you hear the word "math," you probably think about adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. To solve these operations — and more complicated ones down the road — kids need problem-solving skills and number sense. Number sense is the ability to understand what numbers mean, how they relate to one another and how they can be used in real-world situations. Young children are learning basic, foundational math concepts: when we put cookies in a jar, the amount gets larger (addition); when we take cookies out of the jar, the amount gets smaller (subtraction).
Math Developing Your Three-Year-Old's Problem-Solving Skills
Encourage early problem-solving skills:
Create a Tower of Blocks
Building with blocks is a great way to explore addition with your child. Have her start with one block and add one block more. Ask: "How many blocks are in this tower? How many will we have if we add one more?" See how high the tower can go!
Gabriela is sorting her vegetable harvest. Your child can select vegetables to practice identifying and extending simple patterns.Play This Game
Practice Comparing Amounts
Making comparisons is a great start to thinking mathematically. If you give your child two animal crackers and yourself four, no doubt your child can tell who has more and who has less! Throughout the day, ask him to compare the number of blocks in two towers, books in piles, stickers on a chart or food on plates. Build his brainpower by using the words "more," "less" and "the same."
Curious George wants to share an equal number of treats between dogs. Your child can practice counting and comparison skills while helping George distribute the treats.Play This Game
Start with Two
Help your child do some mental addition and subtraction with the number 2. While you are playing with toys (such as blocks, dolls, etc.) hold one up and point out that there is one item. Then ask your child how many there would be if you added another. If you put one behind your back, how many are left? It might take him a while to do the mental math, so start by counting together.
Giant Hide & Seek
It's time to play a game of hide and seek. Your child can practice adding numbers as he helps Peg and her friends hide from some giants.Play This Game
Use Subtraction at Mealtime
Your child is learning about subtraction all the time. Consider using mealtimes as a launchpad for discovery. Say something like: "I see you have three apple slices. How many will you have if you eat one?" When she eats one, help her figure out how many are left.
George is having a party. Your child can practice early math skills such as patterning, addition, and subtraction by answering questions as she moves along the game board to reach the party.Play This Game
Help Your Child Learn to Love Math with Curious George
Curious George is a little monkey who wants to explore and discover new things. Like George, children are always learning! And his interactions with patterns, measurements, and shapes can help your child begin to see math in the world around them.Find Activities
Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old
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Make and Measure a Blob
Measuring can be fun when it includes a gooey blob! Together with your child, follow a recipe to make the blob and then divide the blob into equal parts to play a seek and find game.
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The Hungry Games
Cookie Monster is collecting gems. Your child can run and jump to help Cookie Monster gather his collection and then play color, shape and pattern games with the gems.