Very often, the best learning takes place when young students are just having fun. Here are some easy activities to do with your kindergarten or 1st grade child that will reinforce essential math and fine motor skills. You will need some household items:
yarn or string
different colored or shaped macaroni, cereal with holes (such as Cheerios, Froot Loops, etc.,) beads or buttons
glue, pencil, or marker
Tie a thick knot at the end of some string or yarn.
Tightly wrap some tape around the other end to form a “needle” for threading.
Thread patterns using the pasta, cereal, or beads (for example, yellow, green, red, then yellow, green, red). When the yarn is full, tie off the taped end and have your child review the pattern.
Or on a rectangular piece of cardboard, have your child glue buttons in a pattern from left to right, such as two small, one large or three white, two red, etc.
When your child gets proficient at the simple steps, increase the difficulty:
On the yarn or sting use the same color pasta or cereal in sets of five, then put a different shape or color to separate the sets. For example, five Cheerios, then one pasta, five more, then one pasta. When completed, have him use the sets to practice counting by fives. The same can be done for sets of ten.
On the top of a cardboard rectangle, glue 10 buttons from left to right. Have her or help her write the numbers underneath the buttons, counting and writing one to 10.
Use the buttons, pasta, or cereal to make addition sentences. On a rectangle strip of cardboard have him glue three Cheerios on the left. With a pencil or marker make a plus sign (+) after the group. To the right of the plus sign, he should glue a group of five Cheerios. After that group, make an equals sign (=), and have him glue eight Cheerios. Underneath, let him or help him write: 3 + 5 = 8.
Combining fine motor activities with math gives your child the opportunity to build a successful “product” while subtly reinforcing important educational concepts.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.