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Play II

As we begin the year, let us further consider the ways in which we can engage play to enhance learning opportunities. Through play, children practice skills in all areas of development, including math. Play lays the foundation for children's formal learning of math concepts and more advanced mathematical thinking. This newsletter will explore how play supports early math development. 

Playful Math 

This video, created by the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS), demonstrates that playing with math can happen anywhere and at any time - both in the home and the community. For example, a toddler who climbs steps to a slide is learning about height and direction. These represent early spatial skills. The more steps a child climbs (a number concept), the higher they go (a spatial concept). As children play, engaging with them about number and spatial concepts can build the very foundation for their early math skills.  

Have your students consider: What are some potential opportunities throughout the day that I may incorporate playful math?

Play Games, Learn Math!

This article from NAEYC explores playful math opportunities through dot card and finger games. Dot card games are simple and can be played repeatedly. They use cards that have one to 10 black dots arranged in different configurations. These different configurations help children develop mental images of quantities. Finger games incorporate many early math concepts such as counting, composing, and decomposing numbers. These games help children strengthen their number knowledge and visualize numbers in their minds. Moreover, you can play finger games anywhere as you always have access to your fingers! The information outlined in the "Things to notice as children play" sections of each game highlight the mathematics that children are engaging with while playing these games.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

This article explores the intersection of math and literacy for preschoolers. It takes four math concepts (number, size, volume, and data analysis) and provides four ways to integrate language and math. Beyond providing an activity that the adult and child can engage in, the article also equips the adult with targeted questions to pose to the child to further enrich the activity. 

Relevant NAEYC Standards

This newsletter covered playful math which has relevance to the following NAEYC standards:
  • Standard 1 (Relationships): The program promotes positive relationships among all children and adults. 
  • Standard 2 (Curriculum): The program implements a curriculum that is consistent with its goals for children and promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive.
  • Standard 3 (Teaching): The program uses developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development in the context of the curriculum goals. 
  • Standard 7 (Families): The program establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with each child’s family to foster children’s development in all settings.
  • Standard 9 (Physical Environment): The program has a safe and healthful environment that provides appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environments. 

DEC Recommended Practices

The DEC Recommended practices includes a domain on the environment, interaction and family.

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