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Making Sense of Numbers

Learning how numbers can be added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided is important for young children. Help your child discover the mathematical world by finding opportunities to bring numbers into conversations and play.

  • Add them up!
    When playing with tiny toys such as marbles or small blocks, have your child take two handfuls. Count how many pieces are in each hand. Have your child hold her hands together and figure out how many she has all together.
  • Count them down!
    How many are in the bowl? Encourage your child to count the number of pieces in her bowl when you are eating foods such as pretzels, grapes, or crackers. Stop and recount after she eats a few pieces. Figure out how many are left in the bowl.
  • Find number groups
    Talk about what you see. Say, “I see three birds on the fence and each bird has two wings—there are six wings. I see two cars and each car has four wheels—that’s eight wheels all together.”
  • Divvy them up!
    Help your child create equal shares for each person when you are playing with toys or creating with art materials.  Give each person one piece at a time. When all the pieces are gone, have each person count to see how many are in his share.

IEL Resource

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Home
  • Preschool Program
  • Kindergarten

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2016