Summer Math Fun for Preschoolers & Kindergarteners

Summer Math Fun for Preschoolers & Kindergarteners


Guest Post by Charity Hawkins, author of The Homeschool Experiment


Teaching math to young children is easy.  No worksheets,  flashcards or apps are required. All that is required is a willing adult who will help explain how the world works to these inquiring little minds.


Think of it this way: anything with numbers is math. Here are some easy ways to teach math concepts  to your young children this summer.


Money – I like to have the kids count out coins or dollars for ice cream.  Preschoolers can sort the leftover coins into dime and penny towers, learn names, and count the number of coins. Kindergarteners can start to learn how much each coin is worth.  You can also talk about the presidents on the coins.They’re learning that money buys things (and I like to mention that it takes work to earn money) and each coin has a name.





Weights – At the grocery store your child can help weigh peaches or tomatoes. You can say, “If one peach weighs one pound, how much do you think three peaches will weigh?” The old-fashioned (non-digital) scales are best for this so your child can see the needle move. You are just reinforcing that you measure how heavy things are with pounds.


Calendar – As you count down days until vacation or a birthday, you can show your child the calendar. Help them learn the days of the week (we sing a little song) and the months of the year (we made up a song for that too). Preschoolers may just understand that we look at a calendar to see what day it is. Older children can count down days, look at the dates, or think about how many months until their birthday. You’re teaching that large amounts of time are measured in days and months(Years probably won’t make sense until they’re older.) 




Time – When your child asks what time it is, help them learn how to tell time. Preschoolers can practice recognizing the numerals on the clock and learning about morning, afternoon, night time. Kindergarteners can start to learn the difference between the hour and minute hand and tell time to the hour. Our daughter likes to proclaim, “Eight o’clock and all is well!”—an idea from her math curriculum. (Telling time to the half or quarter hour can wait until first or second grade.)  You’re teaching that small amounts of time are measured in hours and minutes.


Measurement – You can measure items with non-standard measurements like shoes, hand lengths, or whatever is around. How many books long is the table? Older children can learn about inches or meters. (“Feet” is a tricky concept for little ones because they tend to imagine their feet!) You can let them play with a small measuring tape (large ones can snap in and hurt little fingers, so supervise) and measure things. If you think they can understand, you can explain that 12 inches make up one “measuring foot.”  I sent my kids out to the backyard with a yardstick to measure the swing I was recovering just to give them a chance to measure something. Anytime you need to measure something (for decorating, backyard work, house projects, etc.), you can invite your kids to join you.  You’re teaching the idea that the length of things is measured with inches, feet, and yards.





Dry/Liquid Measurement – The easiest time to talk about this is when you’re cooking. You are teaching words like “cups,” “tablespoons,” and “teaspoons” as the kids measure dry or liquid ingredients. You can also mention “gallons” of milk or a “pint” of cream.  And you can count cookies if you have time in between all the telling them to stop eating the cookies.



Temperature – If it’s hot you can say, “Boy, it’s hot! I wonder if it’s 100 degrees!” You can show preschoolers a thermometer and put it outside to watch the red go up, then stick it in the freezer to watch the red go down. Magic! It’s also fun to look at a colored map of the country (USA Today often has these, maybe daily) and look at where it’s hot and where  it’s cold. You can play guessing games with older children, ex. “Do you think it’s hotter in Alaska or New Mexico?” and they can practice finding their state. You are teaching them that heat is measured in degreesYou are also teaching geography and map skills.




Maps & Directions – This is sort of science-y and sort of math-y. If you’re going on a vacation, you can show your child a nice old-fashioned paper map and show them the route. I like to make a color copy, then darken the route with a marker, so they can follow along. I’ll call out towns along the way, “We’re getting to Little Rock, who can find it on the map? Which direction are we going?” Oh, and I usually make a copy for each child so they’re not fighting over the map! (But not to worry, they find plenty of other things to fight about.) You can teach the four basic directions, and kindergarteners can learn words like “map compass” and “legend.” You are teaching them that maps are used to show direction and place.



Shapes & Sizes – As you see basic shapes you can teach their names: squares, triangles, ovals, circles and rectangles.  Help your child compare items: small, medium, big.  “Which one of these balls is the biggest?”  “Which one of these towers is the tallest? Which one is shortest?”




Counting – Counting is always good. My three-year-old is counting everything these days: pebbles, potatoes (for half an hour!), animals in books. You can help preschoolers learn the idea of one-to-one correspondence by touching each item in a book with their finger as you count. This and starting to recognize numerals (that “8” means eight items) gives them a great foundation and prepares them for kindergarten. Kindergarteners can start doing simple math problems (ex. Two strawberries plus two more is four). So many fun things to count all around!



What fun ideas do you have for teaching math to little ones?

Charity Hawkins is the author of The Homeschool Experiment: a novel. She lives, writes, and helps count potatoes in Oklahoma. Facebook/TheHomeschoolExperiment


3 Simple Ways to Teach Children the Importance of Money

3 Ways to Teach Children the Importance of Money


Big Brother recently made his first large purchase.  And by “large”, I mean $35 for a Lightsaber that he has had his eye on for a while now.  This isn’t just any lightsaber…this one lights up AND makes noise (if you ask me, it is still a rip-off, but whatever Star Wars).   $35 is a pretty big deal when you’re only earning a $2 commission each week.  :)


He is so proud.  And we are so proud of him.  We went to the store together as a family to celebrate the momentous occasion.  He basically hasn’t put the blasted thing down since he got it…he even sleeps with it!  And fyi:  It was his idea to sit in the cleaning closet…so you can see the lights of the lightsaber better, of course.  :)

This “milestone” is the culmination of some pretty diligent training. This is one of those posts that I have put off writing because I don’t want to come across as though I think we’re doing this parenting thing all right.  We’re not.  I guarantee you that I personally have many issues when it comes to parenting, but this might be one area (and only one) that I feel like we have sort of done successfully for the developmental stages of our children.  That could change tomorrow, of course, or even after the next meltdown.  But today, we’re celebrating!

Here are three simple ways that we have taught our children the importance of money:


1.  Money = Work (but work doesn’t necessary equal money)  

There is no money without work.  Unless it is a child’s birthday or Christmas, we don’t give our children money without them working for it.  This works for us at this stage of life because our children are almost always with us, so there isn’t any extra expenses apart from us.   Each child earns a weekly “commission” (aka allowance) for doing chores each day.  Here is how we do “commission” at our house:

  • Big Brother earns $2.25 each week for  making his bed and vacuuming under the table after dinner every day.
  • Little Brother earns $1.10 each week for making his bed and wiping down the table after dinner every day.
  • Children may earn extra money for doing extra jobs.  Extra jobs include:  washing windows, watering plants, taking out the trash, wiping down the countertops, or any other things I can think of for them to do.
  • Sunday is Pay Day.  I used to try to do a quarter (or dime) per day, but I couldn’t remember and our commission system fell by the wayside.  Doing it once a week is much easier.



Big Brother worked for 2 hours hauling mulch with this wheel-barrow!  


There are some things that we expect our children to do simply because they are part of our family (like picking up their toys, for instance).  We want them to recognize that some jobs must be done simple because they need to be done and not because you will get paid for them.  Likewise, we want to instill in our children a spirit that is willing to serve for no reward or reimbursement (which I am still working on myself).


2.  Spend, save, and give the money that you earn.  

Spend It, Save It, Give It


We encourage our children to divide their money into three bags once they earn it:  Spend It, Save It, & Give It.  We have used these bags for Big Brother for the last 3 years after we reviewed the Fisher Kids Responsibility Station and I recently ordered another set for Little Brother.  This is the only part of the original system that we currently use…I love the idea of the system, but I needed something simpler (and no longer had a place for it when we turned our office into a mudroom).


Spend It:

Most of our children’s weekly commission goes in this bag and gets spent quickly after.  We’re still working on the delayed gratification thing, so sometimes their money for the whole week is blown when they suddenly want a slushy from Sonic.  :)

Save It:

Truth be told, we don’t do much with the “save it” bag quite yet (although birthday and Christmas money often goes in there).  Eventually, this will be used for big-ticket items.  We could have used this bag with Big Brother’s recent lightsaber purchase, but he just stuffed it all into his “Spend It” bag and didn’t touch it for a while.

Give It:

Although they can give as much of their commission as they want (and have occasionally given all of it), both boys must at least put their coin in their “Give It” bag (which is a quarter for Big Brother and a dime for Little Brother).  Immediately after divvying their commission, I put their “Give It” bags in the pocket of our church bag so that it is ready to go for the following Sunday.  I know some people might scoff at the fact that we make our children give some of their money to our church, but we feel like it is instilling a good habit.  Sometimes I don’t feel like tithing, but making it a habit ensures that we are honoring our commitment to God and our church.  Just like our children, there are other times when we literally give out of the overflow of our hearts and it is often above and beyond what we have already committed to giving.  



3.  Buy Used (and sell your old stuff)

For the past several weeks, I’ve loaded up the boys and we’ve gone to garage sales on Thursday or Friday mornings.  They’ve taken their “Spend It” bags and have searched high and low for just the right “treasure” to take home.



Once we’re home, I’ve gotten out my computer and attempted to track down how much that item would sell for brand new.  The new version was almost always at least 10 times the price of the garage sale version!  I explained to the boys that if we were to go to Target (or any other store) today and buy that toy off the shelf it would be $____ and they only paid $____.  It has been a great learning experience for Big Brother especially!



Dora the Explorer Globe:  Paid $0.50, retails for $64.80
Skippy Jon Jones Stuffed Animal:  Paid $0.25, retails for $14.91


We’re also trying a new tactic to rid our home of toy clutter.  I’m setting out a plastic tub where they can put whatever toys they no longer want into the tub.  Then in a month or two, we will have a small garage sale (something I said I would never do again) and they will get to keep the money from their old toys.  I normally just get rid of stuff while they’re asleep (which I might have to eventually do), but I want to teach them this lesson in the process now that they are a little older.  Little Brother (my hoarder) is not very keen on the idea…I might have to keep the toys Big Brother decides to get rid of out of his reach!


Those are our simple tips for teaching children the value of money!  The true test of our training won’t come for many years down the road when they are out on their own and managing their money themselves, but for two boys who are 5 and 3…I’d say they’re off to a good start!  :)


Share your best tip for teaching kids the value of money in the comments!