Basic Addition and Subtraction Activities In Preschool
The concept of addition and subtraction can be too abstract for young children. Preschool should strive to make addition and subtraction as concrete as possible and relatable to the children so they can understand the basic underlying concepts of addition and subtraction. Never use worksheets like Elementary School because they are not developmentally appropriate.
To lay the foundation for understanding have children either use their fingers, the abacus, manipulatives or toys to solve math problems.
Here is an example of what we mean:
At circle time, a teacher will take out four toy trains and say, “I have four trains, now let’s have August give me 4 more trains from the bucket now how many trains do I have total?” The children can then see the 2 sets of four trains on the rug and use their counting skills to arrive at a total of 8. After the kids have arrived at the total the teacher will say say it in math time “ so four trains plus four more trains equaled eight trains” so the children can hear that terminology.
We may then do something where the teacher has out six blocks. Then says, I have six blocks right now, but I am going to share 2 of those blocks with Layla. After the blocks are handed over, we will ask the kids “how many blocks do I have left?” The kids can see the four blocks in front of the teacher and count them to arrive at the answer and then we will state the math problem out loud saying “six blocks subtract two blocks leaves me with four blocks.” We May then do the reverse math problem and say “now let’s have Layla give those two blocks back, how many do I have again?”
Because children at this age have short attention spans, we don’t do this for endless amounts of time. A good idea is to do these types of math problems on a daily basis for about 3/4 minutes during morning transition circle after free-play but before snack time. But by doing it on a daily basis the children usually slowly understand the concepts. We also try to reinforce the concept during their free play by asking questions like “so you had five blocks in your LEGO tower and added two more, how tall is your tower now?”
Board games with dice can also help with the concepts along with computer games and apps. The PBS Kidsgame and TV show
Peg + Cat is the best one to reinforce and learn these early math concepts. http://pbskids.org/peg/