Inside this post, you will find play-based, hands-on math activities for preschoolers. Kids learn by practicing counting, graphing, measuring, learning shapes, and sorting through play. Here are the best math activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
Does your preschooler have a ten frame in their homework folder?
If so, you may have no idea what this collection of boxes is, and you are not alone! I will assume 89% of the parents think it is a graph. (and that is because 11% are teachers).
Math concepts such as a ten frame and number lines are overwhelming terms, but understanding what they are is as easy as counting 1-2-3!
RELATED: Check out our toddler and preschool math category for even more fun ways to engage your kids in early math concepts.
Why teach kids math?
Teaching your kids math is one of the most fun, and useful skill sets you can teach them.
Toddlers and preschoolers absorb information through hands-on learning, not through worksheets. And since math is all around us, we can incorporate it into things we are already doing together at home.
As your child plays, they are introduced to much larger concepts such as counting, graphing, measuring, shapes and sorting. We may not see it right away, but after reading this article, you will begin to see how math is all around us.
Even better? You don’t need to download an app or get a tutor.
I’ve gathered some of my all-time favorite easy-to-set-up preschool math activities. Use this as a go-to reference guide to help teach your children basic math skills. Activities require almost no time to set up and are fun and stimulating for your preschooler!
So why is teaching our young children math so important?
Learning simple math concepts will help prepare your preschooler for some more complex math ideas when it comes time to start Kindergarten.
This article is broken down into the following preschool math activities:
RELATED: Looking for more math inspiration at home? Here are our favorite math and STEM toys for kids.
How do you teach math to preschoolers?
Experts stress that playful learning is the most effective way of learning. When we teach our preschoolers math, we want to keep learning playfully.
When learning is playful, children are more likely to take risks. The more risks, the more connections are made in the brain. As children repeat play patterns and take risks, they strengthen their intelligence.
We want to make math approachable, enjoyable, and enough of a challenge that keeps children thinking.
For example, if we know our child can count to ten, we may do a simple counting activity for numbers 1-10. The next day we may play the same game but include addition facts such as 7+3.
The first math activity helped to build their confidence and feeling of success. The second math activity took something they knew and applied it differently for the child to engage in higher-order thinking.
How do you teach math at home?
Teaching math to preschoolers has so much to do with what they (and us parents) are already doing.
Here are a few examples of how math can be used in everyday conversations.
- We can count out loud how many goldfish you drop into the bowl.
- Try counting how many seconds it takes for the traffic light to turn green.
- We can ask our children to help sort the silverware when unloading the dishwasher.
When you focus on play-based learning as your model for teaching your kids math concepts, you will find that your kids are more engaged, interested, stimulated, and receptive to absorbing ideas and information.
List of math activities for preschoolers
You can teach beginning math notions at home by simply breaking down large-scale math concepts into fun and easy games. Counting, graphing, measuring, shapes, and sorting are simple categories to teach and play with your preschooler.
Check out 50+ preschool math activities below!
The basics of numerical math stem from number recognition and learning how to count. These engaging activities involve fun ways to introduce numbers.
- Block Count Up- a Hands-on Counting Activity: get out those blocks to build counting skills up the number link
- Color Counting Hunt – Days with Grey: get your kids moving to search and sort for colors and numbers
- Counting Surprise for Preschool Math: hide counters under cups to add an element of surprise to this counting game
- DIY Counting for Cardboard Game for Preschoolers: recycle an old cardboard box to make a counting game
- Feed the Sharks: get your kids counting by feeding the shark with this easy go-to number activity
- Halloween Counting Activity: use dice and simple ghost drawings to count the eyes to stick on each spooky ghost
- Magnetic Ten Frame – Days with Grey: use magnetic tiles to put numbers 1-10 in order on the refrigerator
- Mini Ten Frames – Days with Grey: use notecards to make sticker ten frames for numbers 1-10
- Number Dots – Busy Toddler: develop number recognition, quantitative amounts, and matching
- Roll and Drop Counting Activity: use up those empty paper towel rolls to roll and play
- Shape People; Toddler Counting Activity: introduce basic geometry, 2D shape recognition
- Sticker Number Match: match quantity with number symbols with this easy to set up hands-on learning math game
Graphing is how kids learn to organize and compare value systems. Check out some of this fun and engaging ways to get your child to start understanding the basics of graphing!
- Apple Graphing Activity for Preschoolers – Fun-A-Day: cut, paint, and stamp apples on paper in a graph to develop color sorting
- Color the Gumballs – Teaching Mama: use this free printable to decorate and graph the gumballs by color
- Fall Graph – Little Bins Little Hands: use fall colored counters for a seasonal graph activity
- Graph the Counting Bears – Days with Grey: let your kids play with counting bears to count and graph by color
- Graphing Candy – Busy Toddler: let your kids organize and sort their Halloween candy
- Nature Graphing – Here Wee Learn: use chalk and nature to inspire this outdoor graph on the driveway
- Preschool Sock Graph – Days with Grey: use socks from around the house to graph by color
- Primary Color Toy Graph: gather toys from around the house to introduce graphing
- Shape Graph for Preschool – Days with Grey: use graphing to teach shape recognition and sorting
- Ultimate Guide to Teaching Graphing – Stay at Home Educator: learn more about why graphing is important
- Halloween Eraser Graph – Days with Grey: increase your child’s understanding of quantity with this fun and festive Halloween erasers
There are so many fun and interesting ways to teach your child how to measure and compare the sizes of items found around your house! These activities introduce measuring concepts in a fun and playful way.
- Cornmeal Sensory Play – Toddler Approved: who knew cornmeal was such a fun sensory material to sift, pour and measure?
- Halloween Water Play – Days with Grey: measure, scoop, splash, and play in this festive Halloween sensory activity
- Kitchen Match-Up: trace random kitchen utensils and have your kids match up the utensil with the shape
- Magnetic Measuring Activity: measure out some lines varying in length on the floor
- Measuring Kids with Blocks: let your kids build and measure themselves to count and see how big they are!
- Measurement with Washi Tape: grab any random objects or manipulatives to work on measuring
- Nonstandard Measurement with Blocks: use ANY objects around the house (coins, pasta, LEGOs, etc) to measure various lines
- Pour to the Lines: add tape to different containers to practice pouring
- Ribbon Lines-Preschool Measurement Activity: engage your child in this fun measuring and matching activity
- Scoop the Sea – Water Sensory Play – Days with Grey: sort, measure, and play in this ocean-themed water-based sensory activity
- Turkey Feather Measuring – Happy Toddler Playtime: grab some colorful craft feathers and have your kids measure
- Color and Shape Match: teaches simple geometry concepts based on shape recognition and color sorting
- Craft Stick Shape Match – Days with Grey: Make a DIY matching game with an egg carton and some craft sticks. Challenge family members to see who can get the most matches.
- DIY Shape Sorter – Teaching Mama: sort through various 3D shapes like wooden blocks
- Fly In Your Shapes: expand shape recognition through this fun and easy airplane play-based game
- Kindergarten Shape Build – Days with Grey: build three-dimensional shapes with play dough and craft sticks
- Making Crayon Shapes – Toddler Approved: use crayons ro learn about geometric lines and shapes
- Mystery Shapes: develop problem-solving skills with this fun and engaging sticker activity that introduces lines, geometry, and counting
- Shapes and Shaving Cream: build, connect and discover how shapes balance and fit together
- Shape Dig: a fun way to introduce 3D shapes that also build and strengthen your child’s fine motor skills
- Shape Pictures: an open-ended activity that increases shape recognition, patterning, and design
- Sorting by Shapes: sort and organize shapes based on lines, curves, and other basic geometric features
- Watercolor Shape Painting: develops shape recognition and color exploration with watercolors
Sorting is one of the most essential skills you can teach your child. It helps build awareness, organization, and categorization skills for many other math learning concepts.
- Alphabet Sorting Activity: combine ABC practice with math sorting concepts with this sorting activity that introduces basic geometry recognition
- Bear Caves Color Sort: bring out our favorite sorting bears for this easy-to-set up math activity for toddlers and preschoolers
- Card Sorting- Busy Toddler – pull out a deck of cards and let your kids sort the cards
- Color Sorting Pom Pom Delivery: a fun open-ended way to let your kids recognize patterns, sorting and matching
- Drive and Park Color Sort: a fun way to combine vehicle play with sorting and classifying by color
- Fly in Your Shapes – Days with Grey: Have a toddler that likes to move? This shape sorting activity is great for identifying shapes and finding matches
- Rainbow Color Sorting: organize the counting bears by color while developing line and curve awareness
- Run and Sort – Days with Grey: head outside with your toddlers for this run, sort, and repeat color sorting game
- Sorting Coins – Fun-A-Day: a super easy and useful activity
- Spoon Size Sort: use all those different spoon utensils and kitchen tools
- Sticker Sorting by Size: grab all those random sticker sheets and let your kids sort them out by size
- Sticky Color Sorting: grab random paint samples to develop sorting skills through color classification
- Transportation Toy Sort – Days with Grey: Have a collection of transportation toys? Sort them by air, water, and land.
Preschool Math Concepts are All Around You!
Teaching math to your kids is something you are probably already doing around your home and in your everyday life. Try out some simple, fun and educational ways to incorporate different math concepts with your toddler and preschooler.
Which activity was your favorite?!
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Math activities for preschoolers can include 1. measure magnetic tiles 2. sort shapes 3. graph toys 4. dice games 5. play cards 6. make ten frames 7. put dot stickers on a grid 8. sort spoons by size 9. paint shapes 10. count objects 11. play DIY board games 12. sort coins 13. build 3D shapes with play dough 14. add dominoes 15. make a number line with shoes 16. sort stickers by big and small 16. color sort paint swatches 17. measure kids with blocks
Keep learning intentional (know WHY your actions are important) and playful. Think about what your child enjoys and create fun math games using favorite toys. If your child loves race cars, use them to color, sort, and count. If your child enjoys blocks, use the blocks to measure, sort, stack, and graph.
Keep it out! I almost always notice my children returning to an activity once I am not hovering over his shoulder. If your child does not return to the activity, put it away and take it out again in three months.