Children will typically not say math is their favourite thing to do. But what if you could make learning math more fun for both you and your children, and also include some of their favourite activities (such as playing games, going to the park or playground, or story time)? Well, actually you can! You are possibly already doing this without realizing it and the benefits.

Are you familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? This story is packed full of math or numeracy concepts, even though the only number mentioned in the story is the number three.

Numeracy includes using words to describe size, shape, textures, and amounts. When we put things in order, sequence, match, or find and make patterns, we are building and developing numeracy skills. I bet you can find the numeracy in the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story now!

Following are some activities to make a story more engaging and fun. You can add story extenders, or props, to make a story come alive. Using the Goldilocks… story as our example, you can try some of these ideas:

Sequencing:

• Talk about what Goldilocks did first, second, third, etc. See if your children can remember the order of events.

Sequencing, Imagination, and Creative Play:

• Have your children hold toy bears, dolls, or furniture while listening to the story. Encourage them to retell the story later in their own way, using words like “before,” “next,” etc.

Matching:

• Make pictures of bears, chairs, bowls, and beds, etc. like in the story, and have your children match them to the proper bear owners.
• Visit a park or zoo, and sing some songs that involve bears.
• While on a walk or at an appointment, ask your children to find sets of 3. For example, 3 trees, 3 cats, 3 chairs, etc.

Size/Shape/Texture:

• Talk about who is biggest and smallest, what is hardest and softest, etc. To describe things in the book and around you, try to use different words than the book uses.
• Use these kinds of words when talking about the sets of 3, making comparisons and talking about opposites.

These are just a few simple and quick ways to have fun with numeracy (math) by using what your children love to do, which will unconsciously make learning fun and easy for both you and your children.

We share many more of these ideas and concepts at the free 3,2,1, FUN! program for parents and your 3-5 year old children.