The ages of 2-4 years are a critical time to teach children about numbers. This is the point in a child's life where they build an understanding of number and quantity relationships, and it's the first step into early math learning. Learning to associate the number of objects with the numbers themselves can strongly, positively influence their early logical thinking skills.
You can help your child to establish the concept of number and quantity through a variety of fun games as they take their first forays into elementary math. Simple to design and to play, games such as 'matching objects' will build their understanding for using numbers - an important skill necessary in daily life even at a young age, and a prerequisite for learning other mathematical knowledge skills such as geometry and measurement.
Use the following games to help your child master number-object correspondence, and at the same time promote the development of their logical thinking and reasoning skills.
1. Flowers and Leaves
Prepare several sheets of A4 paper and various colors of paint. You might want to put down some newspaper, or an old bath towel - fingerpainting gets messy! Draw some flowers and let your child paint them with their favorite colors. Then, you can assign numbers to each of the flowers. Let your child observe the numbers assigned to the flowers and use paint to add the matching number of leaves to them.
2. Playing Card Correspondence
Find a deck of playing cards you won't miss and grab a pair of scissors. Prepare the playing cards by cutting out the middle of each card, leaving only the part of the outer frame with the numbers. Place the cut-out parts on the table and help your child to match the cut-outs with their frames. You can scale the difficulty of this game to your child's ability level by adding or removing cards, or only using a selection of colors or suits.
3. Help the Numbers Go to Sleep
Grab a pen and some paper, and draw some groups of simple items - stick figures work perfectly for this game. Tear up squares of another paper, or use sticky notes, and write numbers on them. Guide your child to count the number of objects in a group, then put the matching piece of paper on top of the group. You can add or remove groups, or use larger numbers, to control the difficulty of this game as your child's skills improve.