How to teach math for kindergarten

The truth is inevitable; kids tend not to be interested in Mathematics. While there are children who are born intelligently hooked to numbers, there are still kids who lack interest. Kids turning out to be Math wizards are those highly trained by parents at home at an early age. Besides paper and pencil, there are lots of other activities to hook your kids in learning numbers the natural way.

Here are techniques for parents to teach your kids Math the easy way:

1. Begin Teaching Them How To Count

How to teach math for kindergarten

Introduce numbers to your kids by teaching them simply how to count using numbers. Make it fun to memorize numbers by counting 1-10 first over and over again. Count everything you see at home, and ask your kids how many they are. Also, give them rewards when they say the correct answer. Show them you are happy they were able to count numbers correctly.

2. Count Objects At Home Or Outside The House

How to teach math for kindergarten

Soon as your kids begin counting, that will be your cue to commence applying basic math operations such as addition or subtraction first. Everything you see at home, from coins to books, kitchen utensils, papers and appliances can be counted with your kids in a joyful manner so you won’t lose their interest. Then proceed counting outside the house, cars, trees, flowers and even butterflies! Whatever you see let your kids be enthusiastic about counting them. Make your child realize that counting does not need to involve identical objects. There should be variation depending on each category you apply.

3. You Should Be Creative In Introducing Math Games To Play

How to teach math for kindergarten

There are various games available in stores everywhere to help you in teaching simple Math to your kids. Use cards or dice or even play money to teach them to add. Board games are updated once in a while so regularly check out the stores for new fun Math games that will involve simple problem solving using addition, subtraction and even multiplication at an early age for kids. You may also be creative in creating your own home games using materials like chalks or sticks.

4. Try Baking Some Good Stuff Like Cookies Or Brownies

How to teach math for kindergarten

You may not be aware, but simple things at home like good food stuff will amaze your kids and draw them to enjoy playing Math games the simple way. Let them count a fresh batch of pastries or deduct some by eating them and let them tell you how many are left. Introducing fractions may also be a good way to use cookies. Slice them into half or ¼ and tell your kids how much fraction was eaten or taken away. You can teach them to cut them like cutting a pizza into 8 slices.

5. Use Flash Cards For Test Their Math Progress

How to teach math for kindergarten

Flash cards are useful in testing your kids with various math equations to solve simple math problems. You can evaluate your child’s progress on what you have taught your kids to learn. You can gauge their potential if you encounter equations visible through the flash cards which they can’t solve. That way, you get to review them on that aspect and be creative on letting them focus on that area where they are having difficulty solving.


If you are not careful enough about teaching your kid math early enough, your kids may find math very difficult. You need to take steps like mentioned above. If you are from Singapore, you can easily find a math tutor and leave the job to be done by the tutor. Being a super mom is all about being extra careful about every aspect of your kid’s life.

Math also includes concepts such as money, time and measurement, problem solving skills like classification and sequencing, analytical skills and judgments which are required when weighing, measuring and budgeting as well as vocabulary and language skills for describing all these concepts.

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Tips for Teaching Preschool Math

Read these articles first:

What is Preschool Math?

There’s a lot more to preschool math than numbers and sums; its an important language which helps us describe, explore and explain the world we live in. You don’t have to be a mathematician to help your child learn maths. Just by reading aloud you play a vital role in their literacy development and similarly, you will play an important part in developing their understanding of mathematics.” 1

How to teach math for kindergarten

Creating numbers with modelling clay

Preschool math activities should happen naturally as you go about your day. Its not a scary subject you have to sit them down to learn formally. Young children learn mathematical concepts by exploring the concrete world through their senses, through constant experience, through practice and by repetition of learning activities.

Daily events in life involve arithmetic, so share these with your child so that he develops an awareness of numbers and a need to know about arithmetic.

Discussing concepts like bigger and smaller, more and less, taller and shorter is an example of preschool math activities in everyday life experience.

Children develop through three modes of thinking about numbers:

  • manipulative mode – working with real objects e.g. beans, cups, spoons
  • mental image mode – using mental images or pictures of real objects
  • abstract mode – using number concepts without thinking of images of objects

All children develop these modes of thinking in this same order. They can switch back to an earlier mode but cannot jump ahead until they have grasped the previous mode.

Since young children are only able to use the manipulative mode, preschool math activities must use concrete objects to teach numeracy awareness.

Failure to do this is probably the single cause of children’s arithmetic difficulties. It is why people grow up with Arithmetic Anxiety.

. the secret is to begin the child’s arithmetic at a young age by using real objects. Then spend a year or two having the child do a lot of arithmetic in her head. finally begin working with abstract symbols.” (Ruth Beechick, The Three R’s)

So, first show your child a certain number of objects, say three spoons, then introduce the number symbol, 3, that represents that amount of objects. Don’t do it the other way around!

There is a plethora of preschool maths activities in Maths text books that begin at the mental image stage i.e. using pictures of real objects and number symbols. Only YOU can give your child the opportunity to repeatedly learn in the manipulative mode until she is ready for the next mode. Of her own accord, your child will let you know when she no longer needs real objects to count and can use mental images instead.

You should repeat preschool math activities often, as you go about your daily tasks, so that numbers and the related concepts will become a part of your child’s everyday experience.

Cooking and baking with kids is a great way for children to explore concepts such as solids, liquids, measurement, mass, volume and more.

As Ruth Beechick warns: “. just don’t push him to work problems in written symbols.
Most arithmetic should be mental. It happens in conversation, not in written assignments.
” (Ruth Beechick, The Three R”s)

ABC Fun & 1-2-3

How to teach math for kindergarten

ABC Fun & 1-2-3 is a preschool curriculum that was written with this approach in mind.

Each week, there are suggestions of preschool math activities that you and your child can do to enable him to experience numbers, counting and other mathematical concepts in a concrete way.

ABC Fun & 1-2-3 is a no-pressure programme that helps you to enjoy the time you spend with your children, while stimulating them to learn at the same time.

These are snippets of a letter from a happy customer.

I put so much pressure on myself to do what I thought was the best thing for my children, and gave them so little of me while I was trying to give them a good programme!

I have recently purchased ABC Fun & 1-2-3 from Shirley, which comes with my highest recommendation! I taught for 2 years, and thought that homeschooling meant that everything had to be perfect.

. what I love about Shirley’s programme is that she gives an outline for the week, providing structure, which I need, and the activities are great and most of the stuff you will have in your home, and it is flexible.” (Eloise, mom to two preschoolers)

This year, I’m teaching my daughter kindergarten math without curriculum. Kindergarten is the perfect time to “play” school, and kindergarten mathematics is the best place to start with making learning fun.

How to teach math for kindergarten

When my oldest was beginning kindergarten, I excitedly bought a variety of curriculum for him so I could find the best. I had more teacher’s manuals than I could count on one hand. As a result, there were many tears. I persevered. He loved learning (especially math), so he survived the year of double math (among other things).

But each child is different. I knew that if I forced a the same methods and curricula on second child, it would only cause her to hate school time. I needed a new solution. To my surprise, our best result has been to completely drop the kindergarten math curriculum. Here are some tips to make sure your kindergarten math time nurtures your five- or six-year-old child’s natural love for learning.

Use games. Playing card games and board games helps my daughter gain basic number recognition as we count around a board, recognize doubles, and recognize common number pairs. Our current favorite game to play during math time is Skip-Bo, which builds on number sense in great ways!

Read great books. I love reading with my kids. Much of the time, a great picture book can introduce a mathematical concept to a kindergarten-age child in a way that is more memorable than any worksheet-based curriculum could do so. You could even make up your own stories as you go about your days.

Make it real. My daughter loves her analog watch. It helps that it is Minnie Mouse that shows her the time! As we make a schedule and set timers, she learns about passing time, time in general, and reading the time (very generally, at least, in terms of hours). She also loves getting money and shopping at a garage sale with me. Since garage sales deal with small amounts of money (and we can usually find something for a quarter), this is great practical experience. Consider having your child help cook to learn fractions, and counting the bottles of tomato sauce on a grocery run. Even things as simple as helping set the table (How many plates? How many knives?) can count as kindergarten math.

Get moving. My daughter loves anything involving running or jumping around! Use your trampoline to practice counting by tens, or make your math practice a dance party.

Play with toys. In teacher talk, a “manipulative” is something that a child can hold (or manipulate) to help solidify a concept. In your home classroom, anything can be a manipulative! We play with beads, marshmallows, paperclips, pom-poms, mini-erasers, stuffed animals, snap cubes, small plastic jumping frogs. Anything goes! If you can count it, it can be used for math learning. I love the math curriculum-provided manipulatives too, like Cuisenaire rods (also called centimeter rods).

After Planning. As a new homeschool mom, I know would have panicked if someone had suggested ditching the curriculum. Kindergarten is the best place to do so, though, as many states do not require it anyway. In addition, kindergarten concepts are basic enough that you probably cover them on a daily basis. Any gaps that remain are certain to be reviewed in first grade mathematics. To keep track of what you’ve done, sit down after the day is over and write down in your planner what you did. I call this my “after planing” method. I don’t usually plan out our day before we start: I let her choose what we do and we live life. Chances are you can find some way those things relate to math!

Here are the basic concepts commonly addressed in kindergarten math curricula for a whole year. I hope as you read through this list, you’ll think of more ways you can play games, read great books, get moving, make it real, play, and after plan to do your kindergarten math without a curriculum together. It’s more fun than you’ll believe!

Teaching kindergarten and preschool math concepts require much more than handing children math workbooks or worksheets.

Children begin to understand symbols and abstract concepts only after experiencing the ideas on a concrete level.

Children need to have math experiences that incorporate their senses, that require them to experiment and make observations, and that allow them time to investigate a topic further.

Children learning kindergarten and preschool math need to grasp concepts at their own rate. They frequently return to former tasks to try to solve them in new ways and start to record their work with pictures.

How do children learn math?

How to teach math for kindergarten

1. Children learn math with concrete materials…

Children need concrete objects – real stuff, manipulatives, materials, such as blocks, counters, popsicle sticks, in order to make sense of new math concepts or abstract ideas. Read, “Teaching with manipulatives”, for easy steps on how to do this.

Only after children have had ample opportunities to learn a new concept with real objects are they ready to connect their learning to abstract symbols such as numbers and math symbols (34, 22, +, -).

2. Children need lots of time to learn math…

Children need plenty of time to play with math materials before they use them for teacher guided math activities.

3. Children learn math with a meaningful vocabulary…
How to teach math for kindergarten

Children need to link math to their everyday experiences. Math games and activities are good opportunities to build a math vocabulary.

Children need vocabulary to express their mathematical experiences.

A sample kindergarten and preschool math lesson: Measurement

1. Explore Materials

Always give the children a couple of weeks to play with the concrete objects that you are planning to teach with, in this case, wooden blocks. Children need to explore the materials before they are ready to pay attention when using them in a structured activity.

How to teach math for kindergarten

2. Demonstrate

Demonstrate what you would like the child to do. Keep in mind that the students are just getting used to the idea that things can be measured (don’t worry about accuracy yet).

  1. Choose a pile of identical blocks and a book.
  2. Line the blocks up against the book; then count the blocks.
    Say, “My book is 6 blue blocks long.”
  3. Repeat this process a few times.
  4. Point out where the first block starts and the last block ends. (Blocks will not be the exact length of the book)
  5. Talk about why you need to use blocks of the same size.
  6. Have the children choose a book and identical blocks and try to measure their books.
  7. Next math period, have the children pay more attention to accuracy, where their blocks are starting and ending. Use vocabulary such as half a block and middle of the block.

3. Show the process of measuring as well as how to record results

When the children are successful at measuring, show them how to measure an object and then how to record the results with a picture. After the children have recorded their math results as a group on a large paper and they understand the connection between the actual activity and the recorded results, have them repeat the measurement activity by themselves and record their own learning.

Provide teacher made recording sheets or have children create their own. Now the children are beginning to connect their concrete learning to abstract symbols, known as the representational, connecting or picture stage.

4. Abstract symbols

Only after the above connections have been made are children ready to use abstract symbols only. Every new math concept needs to be taught using the concrete and connective (pictorial, representational) steps before children are ready for abstract symbols.

Math Teaching Tips How to teach math for kindergarten

  • When teaching, start with shorter periods of structured activities and increase when the group is ready.
  • Change groups frequently as children learn from and gather ideas and vocabulary from each other.
  • When children lose interest, change the materials and tasks slightly.
  • Small groups of ten children work well for kindergarten math structured activities. The other children can be doing unstructured free exploration with other math equipment at this time.
    You will need to train your students to care for classroom materials during the first month of school and with each new set of objects, you add to the classroom.
  • Don’t put all of your math materials out at once, introduce a few at a time and teach the care of and clean up routines for each one.

How to teach math for kindergarten

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How to teach math for kindergarten


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By Leslie Simpson · About 3 minutes to read this article.

Teaching math strategies in kindergarten may be easier than you think. Here are the top math strategies for kindergarten that you can use in your lessons and the questions you should be asking.

How to teach math for kindergarten

I’ve got everything I’m sharing with you today wrapped up in my Guided Math Pack for kindergarten. That way you can use these math strategies for kindergarten easily.

What are math strategies in kindergarten

You should know that these math strategies for kindergarten came from the Kindergarten Common Core Standards. There is a whole section called “Mathematical Practice” that lists the standards below.

Now hang with me. Here are the standards as they are written out. They are super exciting so I won’t be offended if you just want to jump past this list.

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • Model with mathematics.
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Now, if you ask me – these are hardly kindergarten friendly.

But, as I planned out my guided math curriculum for kindergarten I realized that I needed to make use of them. I was supposed to be teaching them, after all.

How I made them kid-friendly

In order to make use of those silly-stated standards, I desperately needed to make them more kinder-friendly. So each standard got rephrased into a strategy or approach that we could actually use.

  • “Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” became “tell and explain”
  • “Attend to precision” became “check my work”

How to teach math for kindergarten

And those kinder-friendly phrases became go-to things for me.

I’m not kidding. Since I was introducing and using them during small group lessons, I was able to refer to them regularly and prompt students with them.

How you can use pictures to teach strategies

Since I work with beginning readers and non-readers in kindergarten, I made icons or symbols for each strategy. This works on the same principle as illustrating guided reading strategies.

How to teach math for kindergarten

I turned each strategy into posters and cards.

These were integrated into the math prompts my students did in our math journals. They would practice one strategy each time – at the same time as working on content.

How to teach math for kindergarten

Questions to ask your small math groups

What do these math strategies mean for teaching in small groups?

Well, that meant I had questions I could ask.

  • “How can you show what you are thinking?”
  • “What tools did you use to figure this out?”
  • “Tell us about your thinking. What did you notice?”
  • “What would make good sense?”
  • “What could you try?”
  • “What do you notice?”

Rather than tell my students what to do – or how to solve – I could ask questions to help direct their thinking.

How to teach math for kindergarten

I added these math strategies for kindergarten right into my lesson plan templates too.

If you like these math strategies for kindergarten all done for you – you can get the:

  • strategy posters and cards
  • guiding questions to ask based on the strategies
  • math journals prompts with strategies listed
  • lesson plan templates with strategies listed

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

Become legendary in your school for making math fun and easy.

When you ask a student what they think about math, typical responses likely include “I hate it,” “It’s boring,” or “It’s too hard.” I know these negative associations all too well because I struggled with math as a child. As a visual and hands-on learner, I felt like a lot of my teachers didn’t present mathematical concepts in a way that I was able to understand. This, along with my experience as a kindergarten teacher, has fostered a love of teaching math. If you want to make teaching math fun and easy, try these three approaches.

Use Modeling and Student Names

Using a student’s name in a math problem is an effective way to keep your class engaged. When teaching subtraction in my kindergarten classroom, I always come up with silly stories to entice my students. I randomly choose a child in my class to include in each example. Sometimes, choosing a student who has a difficult time staying attentive can be a very effective strategy. I may say, "Jenny bought five pieces of candy from the store." Right away, I have Jenny’s attention—along with all the students who love candy. I continue, "Jenny gives Abigail three pieces of her candy, so how many pieces of candy does Jenny have left?"

The answer to this story problem might seem logical for many students. However, some of my students need a visual aid, so I grab five pieces of candy and we act out the problem. We then repeat the problem again, and I have my students draw it on a piece of paper. Every concept that’s taught should have meaning and relevancy in the real world and in your students’ lives.

How to teach math for kindergarten

Build Character through Competition

Some may think of competition as a bad teaching tool because of the pressure it places on students. However, competition in the classroom can lead to enhanced student engagement, while also fostering a love of learning. As a teacher, being transparent with students about the nature of competition is important. Teaching math through competition is an especially great way to get students excited about learning. Every day, my class participates in a timed competition to practice. The class competes to see who can solve the most addition facts in one minute, and the student(s) who completes the most addition facts is crowned the Mathematician of the Day.

Sometimes I think my students are more excited about the prize than the actual competition, but who wouldn’t be excited for a brand-new, sharp pencil or a shiny, embossed certificate with your name written in the finest teacher handwriting? I just always make sure to remind my students that it’s not always possible to win, that it’s OK to make mistakes, and that being happy for the winner feels good.

Entice Learners with Games

Games are a fun and engaging way to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. Often, students are having so much fun that they don’t even know they’re learning. For instance, Math Attack is one of my favorite games to play with my kindergarten class to improve addition and subtraction. Students are split into teams and given a variety of resources (manipulatives, a whiteboard and markers, a pencil and paper, etc.) to help them solve problems. I flash a problem on our document camera for five seconds and students must work together to solve the problem using the resources provided. The first team that gets the correct answer receives two points and the other teams that get the answer correct receive one point. This game is not only a great way to teach your students but it pushes them to work together as a team.

Learn some tips on how to help kindergarten students with math in this free education and learning video series.

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In kindergarten, we teach many strategies to help our students practice simple addition problems. I like to give my students several strategies to use when learning to add so they can find the one that works best for them!

There are so many ways to facilitate learning when it comes to addition. There are so many fun and engaging ways to help your students understand what it means to add! Today, I am excited to share three FUN ways to teach addition in kindergarten!

How to teach math for kindergarten

Addition Strategies Posters

One of the best ways to teach your students about addition is with visual posters. We introduce one strategy at a time and hang the posters up in our classroom so we can refer back to them whenever we need to. I like to introduce several strategies to my students so they can find ones that make the most sense to them!

How to teach math for kindergarten

Using these posters, we talk about all the different strategies we can use when adding numbers. I show my students how they can use a ten frame to add, how they can use cubes or manipulatives, and even that they can use their fingers if they need to! It’s a strategy that works really well since you always have your fingers on you, no shame in using them!

If you’d like to print these Math Strategy posters and display them in your classroom, you can find them in my shop!

How to teach math for kindergarten

Addition Task Cards

Once we have learned our addition strategies, we love to practice our addition facts with Addition Task Cards. I laminated the center cards, hole punched the corners, and bound them together with a binder ring. During centers, my students can grab a group of addition task cards and practice adding!

These center cards provide my students with several different strategies and lots of practice solving addition equations!

How to teach math for kindergarten

Each task card comes with a cover card so my students know which strategy they are choosing. They can practice using a ten frame to add, using cubes, using a number line, and 8 more strategies! They make for extremely fun and interactive math centers throughout the year!

You can find my Addition Task Cards with over 180 cards in my shop as well!

How to teach math for kindergarten

Using Addition Songs

Finally, our favorite way to practice addition facts is with singing! My kindergartners love songs, especially songs that teach math skills and strategies!

These songs give them a chance to get up and move after sitting in their seats all day. Whichever song we use, I encourage them to stand up and move in some way. I’m going to share a few of my favorite addition strategy songs below.

    – Jack Hartmann – Jack Hartmann – Harry Kindergarten – Jack Hartmann – Fun Songs with Umigo – Harry Kindergarten

There are plenty of others but these are our favorites! Jack Hartmann always has my whole class singing and dancing. The songs are so easy to memorize, so kids find themselves singing the songs while solving problems.

While there are tons of ways to teach and master addition strategies, I hope this post gave you a few new ideas to use in your classroom. Don’t forget to grab my Addition Task Cards and Addition Strategy Posters to use with your students. Happy Adding!