Incidental Math: Activities for Young Children

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These incidental math activities ideas were shared by providers and teachers on the Child Care Lounge message board.

Make a shadow observation by estimating whether or not a play structure will be in the shade or not by the time recess is over. Fun activity to use throughout the year as it will change seasonally, and fluctuate according to weather as a well!

A child building a tower during center time. He or she comes to me and wants me to see it. Then, I ask them, "How many blocks are in your tower?" and then we count them to figure out how many are there

A child is playing in the sandbox, filling up buckets of sand. You ask them, which one is fuller? Which one is heavier? Does the fullest one or the one with the least amount of sand weigh more

During cleaning time one of the helpers ask, may he stack up the chairs. As he finished he said look, I have a pattern red, blue, red, and blue.

During our daily morning walk, we count baby bunnies (there are a lot in our rural neighborhood). Each time they see another baby bunny, we start with the first. Example, "1 baby bunny, 2 baby bunnies, 3 baby bunnies..." When we get further down the road, and see an additional baby bunny, the child who spots it exclaims: "Look, number 4!"....and we start again with 1, and work up to 4.

An example of and incidental math learning is. If you have a child playing in the water table you might ask the child "How many cups of water will it take to sink the bucket." Or you might ask them to count the toys in the water table and then ask them if you take so many away how many toys are left in the water.