Homeschool Math is as easy as Pie!

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What is the best homeschool math curriculum for kindergarten?

Well, it’s more of a system than an actual curriculum……

Something amazing I learned about math in all my years of homeschooling—it’s all about sorting and patterns.  If there is one single thing that will help your young child in future math endeavors it is learning to sort items and recognize patterns.  In years of teaching math to kids it amazes me how evident that is to me now and without the experience of teaching it I never would have realized how absolutely important classification and patterns are to math.  All the way through Algebra almost all mathematical algorithms are based on the ability to recognize, categorize and repeat patterns to one extent or another.  It all starts with a handful of critically important, but very basic concepts that young children should not be rushed to learn.  Have fun with this and math will be so much easier throughout your child’s academic career. 

There are plenty of comprehensive homeschool math curricula for preschool and kindergarten out there that address these basic concepts, but I suggest something a bit more simple and fun.  The goals of early childhood homeschool math is really to get a child thinking mathematically and keep them interested.  It is not about memorizing facts. 

The easiest way to teach kindergarten and preschool homeschool math…….

Make a list of math activities on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar.  Everyday at math time your child can pick one or two out of the jar to do for math time.  To maintain some degree of control you may want to add topics to the jar each week based on what topics you want to work on most. Some activities your child will like more than others and that is ok.  You can add extra papers with the names of activities your child enjoys as well as activities that they need a little extra work on.   Add in one or two with “Your Choice” and let the child choose if they pick that one.   As they get older you also add in some Kumon workbooks and/or Miquon.   The key is just exposure to mathematical thinking and keeping it fun so they don’t grow to hate math. 

At the end of the post is a list of homeschool math resources and manipulatives are items I think you will use for many different activities and are worth purchasing.  Other items might be needed for individual activity suggestions and those are highlighted  directly in the activity for which they are used and not listed on the resource list. 

Use these ideas below as a starting point for homeschool math topics and activities for kindergarten and preschool age children. Then come up with your own as you get to know how your child learns best. Many of these activities may seem random, but they are all the basis of mathematical thinking.  Things like one to one correspondence may seem trivial but it is absolutely imperative your child understand these very basic concepts well before moving on.  Taking the time to master skip counting will make multiplication and division incredibly easy as they get older.  Focusing on the concept of making ten gives them clear insight in the entirety of the base ten system.  Do not rush math.  Make it fun and keep it simple. 

Color Identification:

  1.  Basket Color Game: Get a basket and have kids run around the house and find everything they can that is a certain color. 
  2. Find Ten: Find ten items of a certain color
  3. Toy Sorting: Put a pile of assorted colored stuffed animals (or other toy) in the middle of the room and have the kids sort by color
  4. Color Collage: Pick a color and have your child cut pictures from magazines of things that are that color and glue on paper. 
  5. Bear Colors:  Sort counting bears by color
  6. I Spy: Play I Spy with colors
  7. Red Rover: Play Red Rover with stuffed animals. 

Shapes:

  1.  Basket Shape Game: Get a basket and have kids run around the house and find everything they can that is a certain shape (Discuss the difference between 2D and 3D shapes and be sure they know the different names)
  2. Find Ten Shapes: Find ten items of a certain shape.
  3. Shape Cutting: Cut out shapes.  (Children can trace a pattern if they need help)
  4. I Spy: Play I Spy with shapes. 
  5. Shape Collage: Make a collage of pictures of a certain shape.
  6. Pattern Blocks: Discuss and sort the different shapes. 
  7. Shape Talk: Discuss the likes and differences of different types of triangles or rectangles vs. squares.

Patterns. 

  1. Have kids make a pattern of counting bears.  Start with basic ABABA and then onto more complicated patterns.  They can mimic similar patterns with duplos or unifex cubestoo. 
  2. Give your kids two patterns either out of bears of duplos and have them explain the difference between the two patterns. 
  3. Go on a pattern safari outside.  Look for patterns in nature.  Some leaves have large points and small points in a certain pattern.  Or count the pickets in a fence—8 small pickets for every one picket.  Look for patterns in the way branches grow on different kinds of trees. 
  4. Make beaded necklaces and bracelets in different patterns. 
  5. Discuss tessellations and play with pattern blocks to create your own.
  6. Use a tessellation coloring book to color in different patterns.
  7. Design and sew a quilt with your child. 
  8. Use beads and patern cards.  Create your own pattern cards

Sorting/Likes and Differences

  1. Discuss the difference between animals.  Start simple with something like bird and dog and then move on to dog and cat and eventually talk about different dog breeds. 
  2. Do some scientific classification.  Use a magnetic or felt board to cut out different living things and then starting with Plants and Animals divide them working your way through the entire classification system. 
  3. Play a memory card game
  4. Play Old Maid
  5. If you have more than one child have each make an About Me booklet and include things like My hair, My eyes, My family, My room, Things I like, Things I don’t like etc and then compare how the children are like and different from their siblings. 

Counting/Number Identification

  1. Listen to counting songs
  2. Play Chutes and Ladders
  3. Write numbers on cards and have child place the correct number of counting bears on each card.
  4. Go on a counting safari taking a walk outside and counting things. 
  5. Make a number book. 
  6. Cut out large numbers and decorate.
  7. Read counting books.  Get at least one number book from the library each week and read together. 

One to One Correspondence

  1. Use an empty egg carton to put one item in each hole.  These items can be anything from buttons to counting bears.  Then have them count the total number of objects.
  2. Have a pile of counting bears each find a “friend”. 
  3. Set the table with your child and put one fork for each person, one plate for each person, one cup for each person etc. 
  4. Draw simple faces and each face gets one nose and one mouth.  Then move on to two eyes and two ears. 

Adding on and Taking away

  1. Tell math stories that “add on” or “take away” and use drawings or toys to act out the stories. (George had five cookies and then his friend gave him another one cookie how many cookies did George have)
  2. Build towers out of unifix cubes.  “This tower has three blocks let’s add one and see how many we have” etc. 
  3. Build consecutive towers where each on has one more than the other. 
  4. Use small candies or cereal and give your child a certain number.  Then let them eat on and say how many they have.  Then you can give them 2 more and ask them how many they have. 

Skip Counting:

  1. Listen to skip counting songs regularly
  2. Count things that come in pairs like shoes.
  3. Then, count things that come in fives like a pack of gum or small box of crayons.
  4. Finally, count things that come in tens like fingers and toes
  5. Tie groups of markers together in groups and count.
  6. Put counting bears together in same size groups and count. 
  7. Draw a series of something (like 20 hearts) on a paper and have them circle groups of the same number and count (Circle groups of five hearts—how many groups of five did you circle?  Can you count by fives how many hearts are in total?)etc. 
  8. If you think your child is ready you can introduce some basic skip counting with coins.  Pennies count by 1s.  Nickels count by 5s.  Dimes count by 10s.  etc.  Some children may not yet grasp the more abstract concepts needed to understand this though so don’t confuse your child if they aren’t ready.

Measuring:

  1. Measure different things with a ruler.
  2. Measure longer difference with strides and show your child how your stride is longer so it’s not a good system of measurement. 
  3. Cook with your child. 
  4. Make a tower with unifix cubes and see how many duplos make a similar size tower.
  5. Keep a growth chart of your child and measure him/her once a month. 
  6. Grow some seeds and measure each day or two.  Sunflowers or beans work really well for this. 

Making  Ten:

  1.  Take a ten cuisenaire rod and have your child build different combinations of number that make the same height as the ten rod. 
  2. Take ten counting bears and tell your child to divide it into two groups.  Then see if they can divide it into two different size groups.  Write down the different number combinations that equal ten. 
  3. Have your child move groups of his or her fingers up and down to make combinations of ten.  (four fingers down and six fingers up etc.)
  4. Make a “Friends of Ten” Chart listing all the number combinations that equal ten. 
  5. Build towers of two colors of unifix cubes to create ten so when all the towers are lined up the colors make steps. 
  6. Once your child has mastered combinations that make ten you can introduce them to a plus and equal sign and redo the above activity creating math facts that equal ten. 

The day will come when they need to memorize facts, but that is not now.   Now be creative and enjoy!  I will continue to add to this list so if you have any good ideas please send me an email.  mary@christopher.travel  Once your child masters these topics and an handle a good amount of Kumon and/or Miquon you can move onto a more structured homeschool math program—usually around first or second grade. 

Homeschool Math Resources

Counting Bears or Dino Counters or Family Counters

Pattern Blocks

Unifix Cubes

Beads and Pattern Cards

Skip Counting Music

Cuisenaire Rods

Kumon Books

Miquon Math

So get your supplies. Pick your favorite activities. Put them in a jar and you are all set. Find more information about early childhood homeschooling on my Tips and Tricks Page.

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel on July 26, 2020 at 6:39 am

    Great ideas. Thank you for sharing these. Very useful tips. I’m sure many will be homeschooling this year and will benefit from this post.

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