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7 Engaging Kindergarten Math Activities for Early Learners

by | Aug 7, 2023 | Core Skills

Math is one of the most important Core Skills, one of the 5 C’s at the heart of the Begin Approach to helping kids thrive in school and life. Math skills at kindergarten entry are the best predictor of later success in school, but not every kid enjoys the traditional ways of learning math. Enter: kindergarten math activities! They’re a great way to link learning math to kids’ natural love of play.

The Short Cut

  • Math is an essential Core Skill, and early learners with strong Core Skills do better in school later on
  • Essential kindergarten math concepts include counting and cardinality, recognizing numbers beyond 10, adding and subtracting, and recognizing shapes
  • Giving positive feedback often and using math in everyday life (“Can you put four apples in our shopping bag?”) can help kindergarteners learn math skills

This article will give you a detailed guideline to help your child get a solid mathematical foundation. These easy at-home activities are fun, engaging, and offer lots of learning opportunities.

Let’s get started!

Kindergarten Math Concepts

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand which concepts your young learner will be tackling in kindergarten. That way, it’s easier to know which activities and math skills to focus on at home.

The following are the key math principles your child may know by the end of their kindergarten year:

  • Counting and cardinality (understanding that when you count objects, the last number you count is how many there are, e.g. “8…9…10. There are 10 blocks!”)
  • Recognizing numbers beyond 10
  • Adding and subtracting single-digit numbers
  • Recognizing shapes
  • Classifying objects by size

With the principles above in mind, we’ve compiled a list of activities that will help your child develop these essential skills.

7 Fun Kindergarten Math Activities

1. Shape Hunt

kindergarten math activities with construction paper

What You’ll Need

  • Notebook
  • Crayons

What to Do

Start by selecting any two objects around your house that look different but have the same shape. Then, give your child clues about one of the objects. For example, you might say, “It has a round shape.”

Your child will need to act as a detective and solve this shape mystery! When they are confident that they know what this object is, encourage them to take their detective notebook and draw the item.

Repeat this process for the second object.

Once your little detective has found and drawn the two objects, you can evaluate them and discuss other items with the same shape. So, for something that’s round, this can be plates, pizza, door handles, and so on.

Once you’re confident they understand the properties of the shape, you can play the game again with another shape (triangle, square, etc.).

You don’t have to limit yourselves to your indoor space. You can also head outside and search for many interesting shapes in your garden, local park, or neighborhood if you’d like.

Find out more about this interesting game here.

2. Count the Beans

kindergarten math activities of counting beans

What You’ll Need

  • Spoon
  • Dried kidney beans

What to Do

For this fun activity, you will need to take a spoon and hold it outstretched. Your child will then proceed to put one dried kidney bean at a time onto the spoon.

When the first one falls off, you then count how many beans you managed to get on the spoon.

You can play this game with a larger spoon as well. For this, the numbers will get higher, so your child will need to be familiar with higher numbers before they’re ready for this one.

To help, a simple 10 frame should do the trick (a 10 frame is basically a rectangle with 10 equal spaces, five on top and five on the bottom).

If, when counting the beans, you end up with more than 10, you can put each set of 10 in a small paper cup, allocate the cups to each frame, and then add everything for the final tally.

This activity helps kindergarteners continue practicing their counting and gain an understanding of number sense.

3. Building Sets with Blocks

Young kid playing with blocks

What You’ll Need

  • Building blocks

What to Do

This activity requires you to ask your young learner to build a color tower with a specific number of blocks. For example, “Build a blue tower with 10 blocks, a red tower with eight blocks, and a yellow tower with 11 blocks.”

All this information will need to be remembered by your child, so this can be a great way to help build memory. Children will also continue practicing colors and counting skills with this activity.

4. Number Guessing

What You’ll Need

Magnetic numbers (0 – 9)

What to Do

For this activity, your child will need to put their hands behind their back. You will then place one of the magnetic numbers in their hands for them to feel. Can they guess the number?

If this is a little challenging at first, it can help to have another set of magnetic numbers that they can see as they feel.

This is a great sensory activity that can help familiarize children with each number’s interesting shape and unique qualities.

5. Shape Hopscotch

Kid playing hopscotch

What You’ll Need

  • Different colored paper
  • Scissors
  • Painter’s tape

What to Do

Hopscotch is one of our favorite games here at Begin. If you’re looking to play the traditional way, you can check out these number games, which include fun math-related activities in addition to Hopscotch.

For this article, we decided to switch things up a bit with shape hopscotch. All you need to do is cut out six different (but easily recognizable) shapes and give each shape its own color (for example, red circles, yellow triangles, blue squares, purple stars, etc.).

Once you have your shapes, tape them to the floor with painter’s tape. While taping, ensure that the spacing works for your child (the shapes aren’t too far apart).

You can encourage your child to jump, hop, or wiggle through the shapes. Here are a few ways they can make it through their shape maze:

  • Call out colors or shapes for your child to race and find
  • Have them hop from one side to the other side by only touching one shape or color
  • Give them directions as they go, and ask what they’ve landed on. For example, “Jump three shapes to the left, one shape up, and two shapes right. What color and shape are you on?”

This is an excellent and fun way for kids to continue working on their gross motor skills while incorporating shape and color recognition. Children will also work on the important skill of following directions.

6. Make a Number Line

Boy drawing hopscotch with chalk on the ground

What You’ll Need

  • Chalk
  • Paved area outside
  • Deck of cards

What to Do

On your paved outdoor area, draw a large number line with chalk. You can write numbers up to 10, 20, or even 30 as your child becomes familiar with those numbers.

Next, take five red playing cards (numbers 1 – 5) and five black playing cards (numbers 1 – 5). Then, you each get a token which you’ll place in the middle of the number line. Mix the cards and put them face down.

Next, take turns picking cards. A red card means you go up the number line based on the card’s value (for example, if you pull a red 5 of hearts, you move up 5 spaces). A black card, on the other hand, means you go down on the number line (red 4 of clubs = down 4 spaces).

If you end up below the number one or above the top number on the line, you’ll stay put until all players have had their turn.

After each player has picked four cards, whoever is highest on the number line wins!

7. Snowball Battle

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • 3 small buckets

What to Do

Crumble your paper to make “snowballs.” Then, place your buckets at the end of the room. Challenge your child to toss the snowballs into any of the buckets until they reach a target number (e.g., 10).

If you have multiple kids, this can turn into some friendly competition with a timer. How many can you land in five minutes?

You can also vary the game a bit for older kids by having them toss all 10 snowballs into the three buckets and then write down how they got to 10 (for example, with 3 balls in one bucket, 4 balls in the next, and 3 balls in the last). How many ways can it be done?

Gross motor and counting skills come into play when engaging in this activity.

Tips for Helping Kindergarteners with Math

Mom working with daughter on her math skills

The above activities should help your child practice and understand their math skills. Additionally, here are a few key points to keep in mind.

Incorporate Math into Everyday Life

Math is all around us! It is in the shapes of objects and buildings, the measurements we take when baking, and the sorting of patterns. This makes it easy to incorporate math into everyday activities.

Remember that the more practice your child gets, the easier it will be to grasp these foundational concepts.

Make It Enjoyable

When something seems too challenging, kids can quickly become overwhelmed and give up before starting. Help your child understand how fun math is by regularly introducing them to math activities in a fun, relaxed way.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

Positive feedback is one of the key components for your child to continue having a healthy relationship with mathematics. So, when they finally grasp a concept they’ve been struggling with, make a big deal out of it!

And, if there’s a math skill they haven’t grasped yet, be patient and continue practicing. Soon enough, they’ll get it!

Lay a Solid Foundation with Kindergarten Math Activities

kindergarten math activities with an abacus

Sometimes kids (and adults) view math negatively. You’ll often hear them express how challenging it is. But kindergarten math activities can help build positivity and confidence!

While it can be a challenge, math is still one of the most important subjects children learn and can benefit them for the rest of their lives. That’s why building math skills early on matters.

Engaging in fun, entertaining, and educational kindergarten math activities can help children achieve just that. And our list above offers great ways to practice.

Check out our HOMER app for even more fun math activities and discover how we can help your young learner thrive!

Author

Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos
Jody has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science and more than a decade of experience in the children’s media and early learning space.