## Exploring Informal Mathematical Knowledge for Preschoolers

Informal mathematical knowledge is a term used to describe the everyday experiences that preschoolers have with math, and it is essential for laying the foundation for later, more formal mathematical concepts.

**Introduction to Informal Mathematical Knowledge**

Informal mathematical knowledge is the foundation of math education for preschoolers. This knowledge is built on the everyday experiences that preschoolers have with math, including counting objects, sorting shapes, and recognising patterns.

The development of informal mathematical knowledge is crucial for building a strong foundation in math. It provides preschoolers with the tools and skills they need to understand more complex mathematical concepts later on. Research has shown that preschoolers who have a strong foundation in informal mathematical knowledge are better prepared for formal math education in primary school.

**Materials for Teaching Preschool Math**

There are many materials that can be used to teach preschool math. These materials should be age-appropriate, engaging, and easy to use. Here are some examples of materials that can be used to teach preschool math:

1. Counting blocks or cubes – These are colourful blocks or cubes that can be used for counting and simple addition and subtraction.

2. Shape sorters – These are toys that come in different shapes and colours, and preschoolers have to sort them into the correct holes.

3. Pattern blocks – These are geometric shapes that can be used to create patterns and designs.

4. Play money – This is pretend money that preschoolers can use to learn about counting, addition, and subtraction.

5. Number puzzles – These are puzzles that have numbers on them, and preschoolers have to put them in the correct order.

6. Measuring cups and spoons – These are kitchen tools that can be used to teach preschoolers about measurement and volume.

7. Clocks and calendars – These are tools that can be used to teach preschoolers about time and days of the week.

**Using Materials to Develop Informal Mathematical Knowledge**

The key to using materials to develop informal mathematical knowledge is to provide preschoolers with the opportunity to explore and experiment with math in a way that is fun and engaging. Here are some tips for using materials to develop informal mathematical knowledge:

1. Provide hands-on experiences – Preschoolers learn best through hands-on experiences. Encourage them to explore and experiment with the materials in a way that is fun and engaging.

2. Use everyday language – Use everyday language to talk about math. For example, use words like “more” and “less” when counting objects, or “bigger” and “smaller” when comparing shapes.

3. Encourage problem-solving – Encourage preschoolers to solve problems using the materials. For example, ask them to figure out how many blocks they need to build a tower that is as tall as they are.

4. Focus on the process – Focus on the process of learning rather than the end result. Encourage preschoolers to experiment and make mistakes, and praise them for their efforts.

5. Use a variety of materials – Use a variety of materials to keep preschoolers engaged and interested. Rotate the materials regularly to keep things fresh and exciting.

Informal mathematical knowledge is a crucial foundation for preschool math education. By using age-appropriate, engaging materials, preschoolers can develop their informal mathematical knowledge in a fun and engaging way. Counting blocks, shape sorters, pattern blocks, play money, number puzzles, measuring cups and spoons, clocks and calendars are all great materials that can be used to teach preschool math. The key to using these materials effectively is to provide preschoolers with hands-on experiences, use everyday language, encourage problem-solving, focus on the learning process, and use a variety of materials.

In addition to these materials, there are also other ways to develop informal mathematical knowledge in preschoolers. Here are a few examples:

1. Games – Games are a fun and engaging way to teach math to preschoolers. Simple games like “I Spy” or “Guess How Many” can help preschoolers develop their counting skills.

2. Cooking – Cooking provides preschoolers with a real-life application for math skills. Measuring ingredients, setting timers, and following recipes all involve math.

3. Outdoor play – Outdoor play provides preschoolers with opportunities to explore and experiment with math in a natural environment. Counting trees, collecting rocks, and measuring sticks are all examples of how preschoolers can use math in the great outdoors.

4. Books – There are many books available that teach math concepts to preschoolers in a fun and engaging way. Reading books like “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr Seuss or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle can help preschoolers develop their counting and pattern recognition skills.

**Counting Blocks**

Counting blocks are an excellent tool for teaching preschoolers math. These blocks are often made from wood or plastic and come in various shapes and sizes. They can be used to teach preschoolers how to count, add, subtract, and recognize shapes.

When using counting blocks with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. This means letting them manipulate the blocks themselves rather than just watching an adult do it. Encourage them to count the blocks, stack them, and sort them by color and shape. This will help them develop their fine motor skills as well as their math skills.

Another important aspect of using counting blocks with preschoolers is to use everyday language. This means using words like “more,” “less,” “same,” and “different” instead of complex mathematical terms. For example, instead of saying “add two blocks to three blocks,” say “put two more blocks with the three blocks you already have.”

Counting blocks can also be used to teach preschoolers about patterns. Encourage them to create patterns with the blocks, such as a red block, blue block, red block, blue block. This will help them develop their pattern recognition skills, which are an important foundation for more advanced math concepts like multiplication and division.

**Shape Sorters**

Shape sorters are another excellent tool for teaching preschoolers math. These toys typically consist of a box with holes of various shapes and corresponding shapes that preschoolers can fit into the holes. They can be used to teach preschoolers how to recognize and name shapes, as well as to develop their fine motor skills.

When using shape sorters with preschoolers, it’s important to encourage them to manipulate the shapes themselves. This means letting them figure out which shape fits into which hole on their own rather than just telling them. This will help them develop problem-solving skills, which are an important foundation for math.

Using everyday language is also important when using shape sorters with preschoolers. Encourage them to name the shapes they are working with and describe the differences between them. For example, “This shape has four sides and is a square. This shape has three sides and is a triangle.”

Shape sorters can also be used to teach preschoolers about sorting and categorizing. Encourage them to sort the shapes by color or size, or to group the shapes that are similar. This will help them develop their organizational skills, which are an important foundation for more advanced math concepts like geometry.

**Play Money**

Play money is a fun and engaging tool for teaching preschoolers math. It can be used to teach preschoolers about counting, adding, subtracting, and recognizing different coins and bills.

When using play money with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. This means letting them count the money themselves and use it to “buy” things, such as toys or snacks. This will help them develop their counting and adding skills, as well as their understanding of the value of money.

Using everyday language is also important when using play money with preschoolers. Encourage them to describe the different coins and bills, and to use words like “more,” “less,” and “equal.” For example, “This coin is worth five cents, and this coin is worth ten cents. If you have two of the five-cent coins, how much money do you have?”

Play money can also be used to teach preschoolers about making change. Encourage them to “buy” something with their money and then give them change, showing them how to count out the coins. This will help them develop their subtracting skills, as well as their understanding of how money works.

**Number Puzzles**

Number puzzles are a great tool for teaching preschoolers math. They can be used to teach preschoolers how to recognize and name numbers, as well as to develop their problem-solving skills.

When using number puzzles with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. This means letting them manipulate the puzzle pieces themselves rather than just watching an adult do it. Encourage them to count the pieces and arrange them in order from smallest to largest or vice versa.

Using everyday language is also important when using number puzzles with preschoolers. Encourage them to name the numbers they are working with and describe the differences between them. For example, “This number is bigger than that number,” or “This number comes after that number.”

Number puzzles can also be used to teach preschoolers about basic math concepts like addition and subtraction. Encourage them to count the puzzle pieces and then add or subtract pieces to find the answer. This will help them develop their basic math skills and lay the foundation for more advanced concepts.

**Measurement Tools**

Measurement tools like rulers, measuring cups, and scales can be used to teach preschoolers math. These tools can help preschoolers learn about measurement, comparison, and estimation.

When using measurement tools with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. Let them use the tools themselves and encourage them to explore the different ways they can be used. For example, let them measure the length of objects with a ruler or compare the weight of different objects on a scale.

Using everyday language is also important when using measurement tools with preschoolers. Encourage them to describe the measurements they are making and compare them to other objects. Measurement tools can also be used to teach preschoolers about basic math concepts like fractions and decimals. For example, let them measure out half a cup of water or compare the weight of a quarter-pound burger to a half-pound burger.

**Dominoes**

Dominoes can be a fun and engaging tool for teaching preschoolers math. These tiles typically have two sides with different numbers on them and can be used to teach preschoolers how to recognize and name numbers, as well as to develop their basic math skills. When using dominoes with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. Encourage them to play with the dominoes themselves and manipulate them in different ways. For example, let them line them up, match them by numbers, or create patterns with them.

Using everyday language is also important when using dominoes with preschoolers. Encourage them to describe the numbers they are working with and compare them to other numbers. For example, “This number is bigger than that number,” or “These two numbers add up to this number.”

Dominoes can also be used to teach preschoolers about basic math concepts like addition and subtraction. Encourage them to count the dots on the dominoes and add or subtract them to find the answer. This will help them develop their basic math skills and lay the foundation for more advanced concepts.

**Number Lines**

Number lines can be a helpful tool for teaching preschoolers math. These lines typically have numbers marked on them in order and can be used to teach preschoolers how to count, recognize, and order numbers.

When using number lines with preschoolers, it’s important to provide them with hands-on experiences. Encourage them to manipulate the number line themselves and practice counting and placing numbers on the line.

Using everyday language is also important when using number lines with preschoolers. Encourage them to name the numbers they are working with and describe the differences between them. For example, “This number is bigger than that number,” or “This number comes before that number on the line.”

Number lines can also be used to teach preschoolers about basic math concepts like addition and subtraction. Encourage them to start at a certain number and count forward or backward to find the answer. This will help them develop their basic math skills and lay the foundation for more advanced concepts.