Money games aimed at preschool children should teach them counting and to recognise coins rather than adding or subtracting which is probably still beyond their understanding. Keep a collection of coins to hand, especially lots of pennies which they can count on. Here are a few ideas for games using money:-
Memory Game: Take four coins of different denominations. Show your little one what coins they are and what value or number each is (eg. 1, 2, 5, 10). Take a sheet of paper and place a coin under each corner without them seeing. Ask where '1' is and allow them one peek under one corner. If they are right, they win the coin, if not they must replace the paper over the coin. Then ask for a different coin and repeat until they have found them all.
Pairs and Sorting: Take two coins each of a variety of denominations and lay them all out on a tray. Have your little one pair the coins together based on size and colour. Can they sort them into order, either by number if they are able, otherwise by size?
Heads and Tails: Take a handful of coins and explain the difference between 'heads' showing the queen, and 'tails', the other side. Say a pattern such as 'Heads, Heads, Tails' and have them line up three coins in the right way. Make the pattern longer and longer to see how many they can remember and line up in a row.
Number Hunt: Take a selection of coins that between them display all the numbers from 0 to 9, include the year they were minted for numbers that don't appear in the denominations. Lay them all out, start at '0' and have your little one find a zero. Then look for '1', '2' and so on, up to 9.
Coin Rubbing: Tape some coins to a piece of card, lay over a sheet of paper and colour over them with a wax crayon to create copies of the coins. If they struggle to keep the paper still whilst rubbing then tape the paper down too. See if you can spot different numbers and pictures as they appear through the paper.
Olympic Challenge: This is a longer term project! To celebrate the 2012 Olympics, 29 special fifty pence pieces have been minted, each depicting an Olympic or Paralympic sport. Start collecting and see if you can collect all 29 fifty pence pieces. Every time you receive change in a shop, show your little one and ask them to pick out any 50p's. Generous retailers might be able to give you more 50 pence pieces in your change if you ask!
Learning the concept of big and small may seem quite simple, but in fact, learning about size is a part of mathematical concepts. Here are a few activities for the children to try out to help them learn sizes:-
Teddies and Wellies - Line up some wellie boots or shoes and grab a few different sizes bears and dolls. Try putting the dolls and teddies in each of the pairs of shoes. Predict whether the toys are too big or too small to fit in!
Dress-up time - Take a selection of hats, shoes and coats that belong to different members of the family. Try them on and decide if they are too big or too small!
Messy time - Make some hand prints with other children or do some yourself. Look at the prints together and say which are bigger and which are smaller. Measure them with a tape measure if you have older children or cut them out to compare them.
Story time - Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and act out the story using chairs, different sized bowls etc.
Tubs and pots - Take a few tubs and pots of different sizes. Look at them and compare them. Fill some with water. Transfer the water between them to see which hold more and which are bigger than the others.
Books - Go to a bookshelf and look at all the books. Compare the sizes of the books and sort them in size order. You'll end up with a tidy books shelf too!
Playing games is the best way to teach children and now the weather is so lovely it's even better to be out in the garden or park while you are learning. Here are some matching and sorting ideas to try out with grasses and seeds for you to find.
- Pick some grasses and see how many you can hold without dropping!
- Match the grasses: Find grasses with feathery seeds and interesting leaves. Try to get 2 of each sort. Lay them in a line and see if the little ones can pair them up, matching the same 2 grasses together.
- Counting: Count the grasses together. Take a few away and count them again.
- Put the grasses in order according to their length. Sort them by size and line them up to see the size differences.
- Sort the grasses by shade and colour (if you have some green, some brown, some dark green).
- Blow: Hold each grass and see what happens when you blow them. Do seeds fly off, do they bend or break?
- Bug hunt: Sit and watch the grass for a while and see how many bugs and spiders you can spot scurrying about.
- Shhh: Sit down and listen to the noises you can hear: cars, buzzing bees, laughter, a siren.
- Picture: Take the grasses home and make a seed and grass picture with them.
As a follow-up diary project, put some seed into a pot of soil and watch over the next few weeks to see if the seeds germinate and grow into new plants?
Here's a quick and easy activity to introduce colours... Find some cardboard boxes and if you can, paint each one a primary colour, or simply colour in one side of paper and stick it onto each side of the boxes. Get your little ones to help choose which colours to opt for and get them to help the colouring.
Head off round the house with your little, one hunting for small items that match the colours to put in each coloured box. Encourage them to choose what to put in, which items to reject for being the wrong colour and ask them to hold the boxes.
Some ideas of things to go in:
- Play plates/cutlery
- Play fruit
- Small balls
- Coloured blocks
When you have collected a good selection, mix them all up and see if your little ones can place them in the right boxes, naming the coloures each time. Ask where each ones goes, and give lots of praise if they get it right.
When you have a child or two that you look after or live with, your home will undoubtedly be affected - things may not be where you left them, a room can be turned into a den or a shop or a library in quick succession. For most of us, it's great to see the children feel at home and that they feel comfortable to make the rooms their own, however, with children comes a lot of clutter and if you need a bit of guidance on how to cope with the clutter (whether it be books, toys, clothes or general unidentifiable clutter!) here are some tips.
Routine and division of labour! At the end of each day or session have a routine tidy-up. Make it part of the jobs that you all have to do and leave plenty of time to do it so you do a good job. Ask the children to do easy putting away, sorting puzzles into the right boxes and low book shelf filling etc. Then you are free to do tricky or high jobs.
Storage Boxes: These are brilliant for keeping a room tidy. They come in all sorts of sizes, they can stack safely or slip onto a shelf and they are hard-wearing. The best thing to do is label the boxes with a photo of what goes inside so the little ones can match the type of toys with the picture and put things away. Write the word too so they become more and more familiar with the letters too.
Bits 'n' pieces: It can be very frustrating if things get lost. Incomplete puzzles or blocks game pieces missing. The best thing is to store the puzzles pieces in little re-sealable plastic bags (with air holes punched in!) so the pieces are in a bag as well as the box. Then you can store them without worrying that pieces will slip out. Or you can use the pull-string laundry bags that come with some washing powders. These can be easy for the children to open and shut too. Children's shoe boxes are great for storing accessories and bits of games or toys that can easily get lost. They also stack nicely and are easy for the children to use as they are kiddie size. Biscuit tins are ideal to use to store treasures or jewellery. Washing powder boxes are just the right size to store magazines or folders. Egg boxes are great to store tiny bits and pieces like paper clips or the ends of chalks and crayons for craft.
Don't Get Everything Out Every Day: Only get a few boxes of toys out each day to keep things new and fresh; rotate the toys on display. Offer a choice of 6 books from the bookshelf rather than allowing the children to choose from the whole 30 books and run the risk of getting them all over the floor... another things to clear up!
Hooks: These are super for hanging all sorts of things and can be a great space saver as well as an easy option when it comes to tidying up. Have aprons etc on hooks so the children can access them and use them rather than hiding them away where they may be forgotten to be used! Keep them low so all can use them.
Making a mess is not really a problem when you have a good, simple and effective way to tidying up afterwards!
There are times when you need to be getting on with preparing the next meal and you have your little ones snapping around your ankles getting ever so slightly in the way - if you can sit them down at a table or on the floor and keep them occupied, then you'll find that you can get on with your work that much more easily! Here's a great idea to help occupy your toddlers in the kitchen...
Take a mixing bowl and add a small handful of three or four different types and shapes of dried pasta - bows, tubes, spirals, twists and so on. Mix them all up. Give your little one a muffin tray and have them sort the pasta back into the right shapes, filling the cups in the muffin tray with each of the different types of pasta. Hopefully this will keep them occupied for some time and they will enjoy this as much as doing a puzzle.
For older children you can make the challenge a little harder by using rice, lentils and other smaller dried foods amongst the pasta.
This is a great activity to let your children loose on every time you want to cook in the kitchen and they want to 'cook' too! This activity incorporates shape matching and encourages their fine motor skills as they have to pick up small pieces of pasta and place them in the right place.