Early math is not about the rote learning of discrete facts like how much 5 + 7 equals. Rather, it’s about children actively making sense of the world around them. Unlike drills or worksheets with one correct answer, open-ended, playful exploration encourages children to solve problems in real situations.
Because the situations are meaningful, children can gain a deeper understanding of number, quantity, size, patterning, and data management.
For example, it is easier to understand what six means when applied to a real-life task such as finding six beads to string on a necklace or placing one cracker on each of six plates.
It is for this reason that we used cups and numbers to practice our counting, adding, and subtracting. To fit this into our numbers theme, we used white cups,numbered 9-14, and stacked them on top of one another. We have been talking a lot about these numbers, and have been creating inventive ways to learn about them!
They started by stacking the cups in no particular order. Once they mastered this task, they stacked them (while counting out loud) placing the number nine on the bottom and the number fourteen on the top. Next, they practiced adding and subtracting different cups and counting them. Everyone enjoyed seeing their structures come to life, and laughed as they stacked and then re-stacked their cups.