Math and Numbers

I Spy with My Eyes

Math and number awareness involves your child counting, recognizing numbers and patterns, learning one-to-one correspondence, sorting, and classifying.


Adam is on the floor of his bedroom playing with a variety of toys he has taken out of his toy box. He discovers a few rocks of different sizes, a plastic frog, and a plastic tree branch. Mom comes in his bedroom and says, “Adam, you’re so quiet. What do you have?” He replies, “Look at all this stuff I found in my toy chest!” Mom replies, “Oh, wow! Look at this rock. It has all of these light colored lines on it.” “Let me see,” says Adam. Mom asks, “Why don’t we see how many other rocks we can f ind that look just like this rock here and count them?”


Adam’s experience playing with a collection of rocks is a powerful math experience. As he learns to match the rocks he is learning concepts of math through play and hands-on experience. Mom supports her son by asking him to pay attention, notice how the rocks are the same, and group them in like categories. Mom also extends the learning experience by the two of them counting out how many rocks they have that look the same. Using simple materials and bonding together creates a meaningful math experience.

Mathematical thinking involves seeing how your child uses his brain to play with the concepts of parts and wholes and his ability to see math in everyday life.

Mathematical thinking is important for three reasons: it is a necessary skill to master in your child’s schooling experience; it is a way of learning mathematics itself; and it helps your child in solving problems later in life.

One of the best ways to build early mathematical thinking skills in your child is to make numbers and math concepts fun and relatable to the everyday experiences he has. This will increase his desire to learn more and have an appreciation for math in the future.

Early math concepts appropriate for your child include shape sorting, matching games (putting one part with another part), color sorting, and simply playing with collections of things (seeing math in everyday life).

Learning about numbers is one of the first steps to your child becoming a mathematical thinker. He will become a mathematician through counting, number recognition, and one-to-one correspondence activities.