As kids learn about numbers, they need a lot of experiences simply counting objects. One, two, three. There are three cups. One, two. There are two cookies. These counting experiences will help them develop an understanding that we represent a certain quantity of objects with a specific name. We call these names numbers.
When kids are comfortable counting objects less than 10, they are ready to begin learning how to represent these numbers with symbols. We call these symbols numerals. Below are several fun activities to do with your child(ren) that will help them learn to write numerals. And don't worry too much at this age if your child reverses his numbers. This is normal for a lot of kids and through practice and time, he will eventually learn how to write them the “correct” way.
(photo) Salt Trays: Fill a shirt box or cookie sheet with just enough salt to cover the bottom of the box or sheet. With her finger, have your child practice writing different numerals in the salt. Write each numeral on a piece of paper for your child to use as a reference. After writing a numeral, gently shake the box or sheet and try a new one. And to make their numbers really sparkle, add glitter to the salt. This activity is great for letter writing practice, as well.
Extension: Have your child practice writing the numbers that are meaningful to her such as her age, house/apartment number, phone number, etc.
(photo) Edible Playdough: Here's a yummy way to have kids practice making numerals. Edible playdough! This no-bake recipe has the consistency of play dough and is easy for kids to make since each ingredient requires the same measurement. Once the dough is made, kids roll it into a long “snake” then shape their snake into different numerals. Use waxed paper over large numerals to make it easy for kids to shape their dough. When they're done making numerals, they can eat their work!
Edible Playdough Recipe (makes enough for 2 – 3 kids)
¼ c. peanut butter
¼ c. powdered milk
¼ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. Karo light syrup
Add small amounts of dry ingredients if the mixture is too sticky.
For a healthier recipe replace the powdered sugar with wheat germ and the syrup with 1/8 c. honey.
Variation: Of course, it's fun to bake with kids, too. So instead of the no-bake playdough, make numeral cookies with regular cookie dough. Add ½ cup of flour to the mix to make it easier to roll out into numerals then bake and...eat!
And, if you prefer to have your child use non-edible playdough to practice their numerals, there are many recipes online. Simply type 'playdough' into your browser
(photo) Shaving Cream in the Bathtub: Bath time has never been so much fun! Using paintbrushes and shaving cream, kids practice writing their numerals on the wall! Color the shaving cream with a few drops of food coloring for even more fun. Note: If your tub walls have grout lines, it is recommended that you do not add food coloring to the shaving cream as there is a chance it will stain the grout lines.
- Write different numerals on each other's back. The person who's back is being “written” on tries to guess the numeral.
- To keep kids busy in the car, look for numbers as you're driving. To help kids learn to sequence numbers, go in order starting with the number '1'.
- Numeral writing app for the iPad/iPhone: ABC 123 Writing Practice - Kids get practice tracing numerals (and alphabet letters). The best part is this app is FREE.
Karyn Hodgens, Elementary Mathematics Specialist
Karyn is co-founder of Math Unity LLC, an educational company specializing in elementary mathematics. She has a BA in Child Development, a Masters of Arts in Education with a Specialization in Elementary Mathematics and a multiple subjects teaching credential. Her passion is designing real-world lessons that resonate with kids and their interests. Karyn is the creator of Nifty Numbers, Math Medley, Gellin' with Geometry and Play and Take Family Math Night kits. These kits were designed to build strong family-school partnerships and get parents involved in fun and engaging math activities with their children. To find out more, visit www.FamilyMathNight.com