Teaching Mathematics

Hey Fishcove families! It’s Ms. Emma. I’m taking over the blog this week to talk about everyone’s favorite subject: math!

Well, if it’s not exactly your favorite subject, or your forte, you are not alone. There is plenty of research to show that math causes a lot of anxiety for everyone, young and old, but the effects are especially pronounced for girls and children of color. There is also research that suggests that how you feel about math as a parent may affect how often you engage in math-related activities with your kids. Add in those biases that people have about who is and isn’t good at math (all bogus, of course. Everyone can be good at math!) and the perfect storm of math sadness begins to brew.

If you find yourself in this boat (like me) then I hope that I can assuage some of your fears. Incorporating math-related activities into your at-home learning is the best first step at ensuring that your child is flexing their math muscle. Below you will find some easy activities to do at home with your little one, with varying difficulty.

Sorting and Counting
Sorting is a super fun and engaging task for kids that also helps them learn how to organize similar items into different categories. There are plenty of different ways to sort. You can use jars, piles, bowls, or just group them together on the table. I think the clink of the jars adds a little something extra, but that’s just me.


Our fishcove friends are no strangers to beans. We’ve incorporated them into our classroom play in a variety of ways, but for the purpose of this blog, we’re going to focus on sorting and counting.

Do you have different types of beans in your house? Give your child a small pile of each and have them sort them! If that’s too easy, encourage them to sort the beans based on size! 

Don’t forget that you can work on numeracy skills by counting the number of beans as you sort.

Coins are super fun to sort! Because they have different sizes and colors, there are plenty of ways to sort them. I’ve included a fun worksheet below that you can use while you count. When you’re done, you’ll have a graph that shows how many coins you counted!

Tip: Every time your child finishes counting coins or beans, be sure to confirm with them that they understand how many are there. They may count 1-2-3-4, but follow up with a question like “So how many beans/coins are there total?”

Adding, Subtracting

You may feel that addition, subtraction, and fraction work is too complicated for your child, but I encourage you to give it a shot! You can use coins/beans/anything countable when practicing.
When I work on math with kids, it helps to really vocalize each step. Be sure to use easy math vocabulary such as “in total”, “take away”, “add in”, “out of”, etc. Here’s an example.
“How many beans do we have in total?
“If we start out with X amount of pennies, and take away/add in Y amount of pennies, how many beans are we left with?”
“If we have 4 beans, and color beans blue, how many beans out of four are there?”

I’ve included some really fun worksheets that will help aid you in these activities. I really recommend the circle coloring worksheet, because it is an easy to understand segway into teaching fractions.
Hint: When writing fractions out, I find it helpful to say “out of” as I write the fraction line to show the child that the fraction bar has a meaning, rather than being some scary, complicated looking math number.

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