Looking for math activities for preschoolers? This is the right post. Math for preschoolers does not need to involve worksheets, flashcards, or computer apps. Welcome to the world of hands-on, playful learning where kids learn math in a fun, meaningful way.
What kind of math is best for preschoolers?
Math for preschoolers does not need to be on a worksheet.
It does not need to involve flash cards.
Or a computer screen.
Math activities for preschoolers can (strike that) MUST be hands-on and engaging. This round up is full math activities for preschoolers that go way outside the workbook or computer screen.
RELATED: Looking for alphabet activities to pair with this mathematics learning? Try this list!
Tip – Preschool math isn’t only about numbers
When we think of preschoolers and math, the natural space to head to is memorizing number names and counting.
But math is so much more than reciting words in order or identifying the name of a symbol (which is literally all the route counting and naming numbers is) and cannot reduce it to something so trivial in the preschool years.
Especially not when these kids and their math skills are worth so much more.
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How these math activities for preschoolers support learning
I grabbed together the very best math activities for preschoolers that are perfect to illustrate the point that we can’t and mustn’t relegate preschool math to memorizing numbers.
Kids need the opportunity to:
- Build conceptual understanding of math principles: this is the “why” in math. For example, in grade school, many of us were taught to “carry the 1.” We were never taught what the 1 is or why we are “carrying” it. We missed the conceptual lessons and were taught to memorize a process. We want more for our kids that following rules in math – we want them to actually understand it.
- Grow their own thinking and problem solving skills: instead of kids looking to us for the answer or finding it in the back of the book, let’s celebrate their thinking skills in math which are 100x more important than their “found the right answer” skills.
Let’s move away from the idea that math is about finding the perfect answer into math is about the process, the concepts, the critical thinking, the problem solving, and sure – eventually the “right” answer, but that cannot be the sole focus.
When the “right answer” is all kids are after, it has an incredible opposite effect to what we are after: they believe right is the only goal, that process doesn’t matter, and that thinking and problem solving aren’t valued.
We want kids who look for the answer, look for ways to solve problems, and look beyond basic memorizing.
The Best Math Activities for Preschoolers
Each activity is linked and I also give a brief explanation so you know the basic idea before you click. Enjoy this fantastic round up of preschool math activities.
Introducing a Ten-Frame
Ten-frames are the conceptually bell of the math ball in the current era of math education AND FOR GOOD REASON. Your child will spend a lot of time with ten-frames in early elementary school, but we can use them in preschool too.
Rough and Tumble Number Rocks
Practice counting and ordering numbers with rocks. Sweet, simple, and something kids will keep coming back to.
Addition. Subitizing. Graphing. Printed numbers. Understanding numbers can be composed by different combinations (5 and 1, 3 and 3, 4 and 2). What doesn’t this activity have?!
Did you know math is called the Science of Patterns? Help kids develop their patterning skills with specific instruction on this topic. Learn more about how I taught my kids through this activity.
Symmetry with LEGO
Symmetry is a hard concept for preschoolers to understand. This is a great way to get them to practice not only symmetry but also color recognition, resiliency, and patience.
This 10/10 activity is so easy to set up and your kids will love hunting and measuring things all around the house. Grab the string ASAP. You want to do this.
Let kids spend time with, explore, investigate, and sort coins. Make sure to keep a close eye and excellent supervision with this activity.
Paint the Shapes
This activity needs a little prep but it’s a fun one. Create a cardboard shape canvas for kids to paint.
Number Toy Hunt
Need an activity to help you make it to nap time? This is it! Super simple yet powerful and is one your child will be wanting to play over and over again.
Sugar Cube Towers
Building is math. In this activity, kids are asked to create towers with sugar cubes – but there’s a painting twist at the end.
How Much is 100?
100 doesn’t make a lot of sense to kids: it’s abstract. This activity makes it concrete but also manageable.
This is an easy prep activity that uses one of my favorite supplies: sticky notes. Matching numerals with number quantities is a huge skill.
Rubber Duck Race
This DIY game has two versions: one is a bit easy and one a bit harder meaning this activity plays for both preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Listen and Spray
Side walk chalk, a squirt bottle, numbers, and listening skills: this outdoor activity has it all.
Roll and Dot
This activity is part probability & statistics and part fine motor skills. Kids roll a dice and keep track of how many times each number is rolled. Have an older child? Try two dice and track numbers 2 to 12.
DIY Pattern Strips
Use dot markers to create pattern strips that kids can use to build patterns on top of. These are great to make once and save for future math play.
Roll and Cross
This is a FUN math game. Create a large dice (or use a small one). Kids toss the dice and race to cross out the numbers as fast as they can. For more challenge, use two dice and numbers 2-12. For even more challenge, make the game a head to head competition. It’s shockingly fun.
Dot Sticker Coding
Coding is deeply math based. In this activity, create simple pattern cards and have your child match them using pom pom balls.
Counting and Crushing Cars
Have the chance to practice identifying numbers and one to one correspondence using toys your kids love. It’s always a winner.
Paint shapes within shapes within shapes. Why not give kids a fun way to interact with these two-dimensional beauties?
Fridge Ten Frame Game
Grab the magnetic tiles and some dice, and you’re ready to go. This activity is rooted in early addition skills.
DIY Board Game
Board games are FILLED with math, but what if your child got to make their own game?! This activity is GOLD.
This activity packs a one-two punch. Kids are learning math skills and reading emotions. *Chef’s kiss*
Recognizing flat shapes on paper is one thing. Recognizing those same shapes in our environment is another. This activity goes way beyond basic memorizing of shape names.
Now I know we said we were going beyond memorizing numbers, but this activity does: this is the conceptual base for understanding addition as the combination of two groups. Instead of just saying 5 + 4 = 9, this activity shows the whole process.
Giant 3D Shape Match
In this activity, kids begin to see how 3-dimensional shapes have 2-dimensional faces. This is HUGE. Not only that, these faces repeat (a square is a face on cubes, rectangular prisms, and triangular prisms).
Frequently Asked Questions
Hands.On. Please, if there is anything you take away from this post let it be this: math is best learned with hands and actual items. Preschoolers are not developmentally ready for flashcards and worksheets. Those are for math practice not math learning.
No. The Common Core State Standards begin in kindergarten. You can read those standards here to see where math learning for your child is heading.
Preschoolers should form a base of math knowledge rooted in numbers, measuring, sorting, classifying, geometry, and patterning. These form best away from worksheets, in the real world, and naturally.