Create a Preschool Math Activity with Blocks

You can create a preschool math activity that is fun, educational, and uses preschool materials you already have around the house. So, get out any colorful blocks, Legos or other items for this free preschool curriculum idea.

Benefits of Blocks and Manipulatives

Using blocks and manipulatives (see the root word "manipulate" in this term?) to teach your young learner math concepts has several benefits. For example, as the child manipulates different items while doing these preschool math activities, s/he will:

  • have a greater understanding of what you are presenting when there is a visual representation and will retain the information longer
  • have an opportunity to practice social skills while interacting with you as you create scenarios and ask questions
  • increase in fine and perhaps large motor skills while doing activities
  • learn and practice skills and concepts to prepare for first grade
  • have fun and will want to continue to learn!

Teaching Sequence or Patterns

One of our favorite preschool math activity ideas is to use bright, colorful blocks to teach patterns or sequence order. You can order by color, size or shape. First, you take out the blocks to use. Next, you create a pattern and describe the relationship between the blocks. Then, you would ask them if they "see" the pattern that you just described, such as "red, blue, green, red, blue, green, red, blue, …?" Finally, you ask them to choose a block that would satisfy the sequence. That's it!

You can have hours of fun with them as you create different patterns for them to complete. As I said, you can choose to practice sequence of colors, sizes such as "big, big, small, big, big, …?" Or even shapes, such as "square, rectangle, triangle, square, rectangle, …?

There are many different types of homeschooling preschool games that can be played with manipulatives. Montessori home school approach has used this method for years and it works, too.

The publishers of the Math-u-See home school math curriculum also understand how beneficial it is to do more "hands-on" work when teaching math concepts.

A Few More Preschool Math Activity Ideas

Teach "More Than/Less Than"

I group the blocks in piles and ask which group has the greater number of items and which one has less. I also introduce terms like greater than and less than. I talk a little about money too. I ask a question such as, if the items represented coins or dollars, which pile would you prefer to have, the smaller or larger pile?

Teach "How Many?"

I will show flashcards with numbers on them and ask them to count out that many items. Or, I call out a number and ask them to group that number of items together. Also, you can ask them to count a specific number of items by color, size or shape.

Teach Subtraction

Place a group of blocks together and have them count the total amount. Next, remove a few and ask how many were removed. Finally, have them tell you how many are left. Practice doing this and subtraction will be so easy when they see it on paper.

Teach Addition

The same method can be used to teach addition by counting two small groups of items and then combining them to fin the sum. It is acceptable to use mathematical terms when presenting in a concrete fashion like this. After they see the items pushed together, it makes sense to ask them what is the total or sum.

Teach Shapes

If your manipulatives have geometric shapes such as squares, circles, triangles or hexagons, you can ask them to locate a particular shape. At first, you may have to say something like, find the shape that is round and looks like a ball. Then, after they find it you would describe it as a circle, and so on.

Most of us are interested in finding free, homeschool curriculum whenever possible. So be sure to try and use the preschool materials found easily around your home for these preschool math activity ideas.

Manipulatives can take many different forms. I prefer the colorful blocks because we can also sort according to colors and make patterns based on color but Lincoln Logs and other household toys will work well, too.

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