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This is the last in a five-part series about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).
For most children, maths is probably the dullest subject they can learn. It’s all about practice and solving equations on worksheets. It can get boring after awhile. To ignite their excitement for this unpopular subject, it’s crucial to apply abstract mathematical concepts into the real world. It doesn’t take much to pull this off either. In fact, there are plenty of ways to incorporate maths-based activities in your daily routine. Here are a few of them.
1. Doing the laundry
Turn everyday household chores into fun mathematical activities for your preschoolers. It can be as simple as sorting clothes based on their type, size and colour, or matching a basket full of jumbled socks. Ideal for small children who have yet to delve into more complex maths concepts, matching and sorting items introduces them to the most basic building blocks of maths. While this may prolong the task of doing the laundry, getting your kid to count each article of clothing they load or unload into the washing machine works as well. The best part is, you’ll get an extra pair of hands with these mundane duties.
2. Cooking and baking
The kitchen is a hotbed of educational opportunities, especially the mathematical sort. Toddlers can learn to count the ingredients you need to cook a meal. Preschoolers can learn to measure them in spoons, cups and kilograms. Older children can explore fractions (figuring out how much is a third of 150g or three-quarter cups of water), and geometry (dividing a round cake into eight equal pieces). At the same time, they’ll learn about addition and subtraction when preparing the ingredients – for instance, calculating how many eggs are left after taking two out of a box of six. If you’re preparing food for a large group, which calls for a recipe to be doubled or tripled, your kids can practise their multiplication tables as well.
We’re all too familiar with the incessant wailing of our children, bored out of their wits, as we drag them along on our shopping trips. Instead of giving them a toy, engage them with maths challenges such as calculating the total cost of the items in your shopping cart, or finding the cheapest of a certain item. For the older ones, try handing them $50 and a shopping list. This gives them the freedom to enjoy some independent retail therapy, whilst learning how to balance a budget.
4. Playing games
Perhaps the most entertaining way to nurture the joy of maths in your little one is through games. Board games that involve rolling dice are perfect for teaching addition and subtraction. Up the ante with two dice instead of one, and count with your child as they move their token around the board. Uno, the classic card game, also helps to impart basic counting and matching skills according to colour and numbers. If there aren’t any card or board games at home, fret not. You can improvise with an indoor scavenger hunt, and get your restless tots to fetch items of a certain shape or colour within a time limit – for instance, four triangle-shaped items and three square-shaped ones.
Learn more about STEAM and how to integrate it in your child’s life! Join us at Happy Sparks on 23 and 24 June from 10am to 8pm at Our Tampines Hub. Click here for the programme lineup.