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Preschool Mathematics in Nature's Classroom

Children are natural mathematicians! From a young age, they push and pull toys, stack items, and fill and empty cups of water in the bathtub. Without knowing it, these activities allow children to experience math concepts as they learn spatial awareness, measurement, counting and problem solving. Early childhood math is not about learning math facts like how much 8 + 6 equals; it is about children making sense of the world around them.

Teachers are able to make naturalistic observations of children’s development throughout the day. For example, if we are assessing children’s counting and cardinality skills (counting sets of objects), we can:

⭐Observe children during morning arrival woodland trail time when there are opportunities to count in meaningful ways. For example, counting out snack items, rocks, sticks, etc. ⭐

We present children with planned experiences to encourage mathematical development. Many of the activities are open-ended, playful exploration that encourages children to solve problems in naturalistic situations. The situations are meaningful, and children gain a deeper understanding of number, quantity, size and patterns. For example, it is easier to understand what five means when applied to a real-life experience such as finding five rocks to put in the jar or placing one egg in each slot of the carton.

Most children enter preschool with a good understanding of mathematical concepts. By providing them a safe and supportive classroom they will feel comfortable taking risks and engaging in self-directed problem solving. Children will begin to see themselves as capable mathematicians who apply their skills in a number of ways; their growing math skills, confidence, and interests will serve them well in school and life.

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