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Mathematical Thinking in Preschool

November 2, 2022 | Kristen Jordan

There are so many places where using numbers and mathematical thinking happens during the school day.  

We count many things!  We discuss the number of children missing.  Then children often estimate or try to figure out how many are at school, using various counting strategies, and then count to confirm. 

Counting is even a part of drawing or making a collage sometimes: 

“How many ears do you have?  Did you draw 2 ears?” 

“Draw 5 circles.  Now, let’s count to make sure there are 5.”

“How many arms do you have?” “How many legs does an elephant have?”

“How old are you? Glue that many pieces on your collage!”

Many of our songs and rhymes involve counting up or down, as well as patterns that repeat over and over: 

5 Little Ducks

10 Little Fingers

2 Little Blackbirds

As children work with puzzles, blocks, Wedgits and Magnatiles, they are developing spatial reasoning while also using 3 dimensional shapes.  

Children have also been using Pattern Block shapes to match and create designs.  Again, this helps to develop spatial awareness and familiarity with shapes. 

Children have organized, counted, and sorted acorns into categories. 

And a variety of materials at the light table.

Children play board games that involve numbers and counting.

One activity that some children have really been enjoying is a dice rolling game.  They roll a dice, count the dots, and try to find the numeral that matches the number of dots. 

A recent favorite activity has been using Unifix Cubes.  Children have been connecting the cubes (also great for fine motor development). First, they started trying to make the longest train of cubes they could.

Then they began using the cubes to measure themselves, as well as compare their heights.

Children have also compared the lengths of their cube trains.

They have begun to copy and create patterns using the cubes.

We have been noticing patterns in one another’s clothing too!

Math is all around us!

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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