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July 12, 2022 / Blog

Ways to make pre-K math learning fun

From birth, children are wired to learn. In early learning it’s important to know what children need to learn – and how they learn is just as significant. Pre-K math is learned through play, problem-solving, communication, modeling and connecting ideas to the real world.

Free play

Pre-K math doesn’t need to be intimidating or boring. Worksheets are out and play time is in!

Research shows that children are natural mathematicians. Building with blocks, collecting items, climbing steps up a slide – children observe and make discoveries. “How many? Same or different? Long or short? Heavy or light? What happens if …”

As they investigate the world through play, children mimic the scientific process – just like engineers and scientists!


Preschoolers use problem-solving to figure out how and why numbers change and perform simple addition and subtraction. Using objects to perform actions is an easy way for children to visualize and solve pre-K math problems.

If there are five people sitting at the table and you give a child four plates to pass out, ask them, “Are there enough plates for everyone? How do you know?” They will use problem-solving – likely by matching plates to people or counting the number of people without plates – to answer.

Communicate and model mathematical thinking

Young children are constantly absorbing the words and actions around them to learn. By communicating and modeling the everyday problem-solving and thinking we do in fun and positive ways, children learn math – and find it enjoyable!

As you put away dishes, count the number of spoons out loud. Sort items in the pantry and show how things fit when arranged in different ways.

When children play, ask open ended questions to encourage mathematical talk. “How did you figure that out?”; Why did you do it that way?” or “How do you know?” Then, observe what the child does and use language to describe what you see, such as “Oh, I see you counted each block with your finger, and then you knew the last number you said told you how many;” or “You counted with your eyes and used your fingers to keep track of how many you counted.”

Connect math to the real world

Pre-K math is successful when children find a sense of meaning and purpose in the learning process. Connecting math with their goals and interests makes it fun and shows how it is useful and relevant for understanding the world around them.

Encourage math through interactive games and play. Building is a great way to discover and reflect on mathematical scenarios. “Let’s build a tower with each row having one less – what do you think will happen? How tall is the tower?” Or let them count the number of columns and rows on a calendar. “Can you find the number seven?”

Pre-K math = pre-K fun!

Keeping math fun for young children will spark wonder and encourage a continued desire to learn. Extend and support free play and problem-solving, communicate and model mathematical concepts, and connect it all to the real world to build the foundation for future success!

Check out Frog Street’s Pre-K curriculum in more detail here.