Early Childhood Development

STEAM: Math Spotlight

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In recent blog features, we have looked at the importance of STEAM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), specifically spotlighting activities in technology and engineering. As The Gardner School is intentional about incorporating STEAM activities into the learning environment, math activities also play a key role within our curriculum and activities.

Math is infused into so many daily life activities, so it’s important for preschoolers to engage with math skills at school and at home. As mathematics is food for the brain, we strive to make sure our students are getting a healthy portion each day. Here’s a look at how The Gardner School incorporates math into daily learning, as well as a few tips for continuing math-focused STEAM activities at home.

How Does The Gardner School Incorporate Math into Learning?

We incorporate math into learning activities in a variety of ways. Each classroom showcases numbers and colors, as well as sorting work that is made by the children. As the children grow, these activities are tailored to their developmental needs. Sara Shoulers, Director at The Gardner School of Herndon, says, “During our school year, we utilize small group math centers that follow DLM Express textbook and Common Core Mathematics for Kindergarten. Both programs allow for children to learn math concepts on their level, including number identification during circle time or center time play, color and shape sorting during small group work, and the introduction of addition, subtraction, and number values.”

At The Gardner School of Franklin, the teachers enjoy the daily challenge of making math fun. “We incorporate counting into our daily routine of lining up every time we leave the classroom. Each week a child is assigned the job of 'friend counter,' in which they are asked to count how many friends we have before leaving the room. The whole class is encouraged to count with them,” says Angela Alexander, who teachers 3-4 year olds at Franklin. Stephanie Grattan who teaches the 5 year old students adds, “In Pre-K, we use giant dice to practice our addition and subtraction. Having a visual representation of each number really helps to reinforce those skills.”

Teachers at The Gardner School of Glenview-Northbrook in Chicago use cooking to teach math. “Our school chef has actually been one of our best STEAM supporters! There are so many math concepts that we can teach along with reading, science, and fine motor skills. Making, cutting, and serving something as simple as a pizza allows for us to introduce concepts such as placement, measurement, and fractions. And, of course, eating your math project is the best part,” says Allison Deutsch, Director at The Gardner School of Glenview-Northbrook.

How Can You Incorporate Math and STEAM Activities at Home?

Parents can incorporate STEAM activities with a math focus at home through a wide variety of fun learning activities. Allison Deutsch encourages parents to use cooking activities to teach math at home. She also suggests following up a family cooking night by playing board games, such as Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-O, and Dominos. 

Angela Alexander says, “Here's one idea, using a farm animal theme: Print out a picture of a pig, and ask your child to put 10 brown unifix cubes (or brown scraps of paper) on the pig to represent mud.” This play-based learning combines early math concepts with lots of fun! Stephanie Grattan adds that preschool children respond well to manipulatives, “With math, anything can be turned into a manipulative—counting fruit slices at breakfast, adding stones on the playground, or measuring each other on a family growth chart!”

Parents can also incorporate STEAM activities at home by following the calendar of themes and activities provided to them by The Gardner School. Each activity that has been chosen is easily accessible via Pinterest. “The children always go home and tell their parents about the exciting activity they took part in during the day,” says Sara Shoulars. “Simply discussing math-centered STEAM activities learned at school is a great way to bring math home!” Numbers and other mathematics concepts are everywhere, and The Gardner School’s STEAM activities demonstrate that math concepts can be used functionally in any setting.

Be on the lookout for ways you can practice math. For more STEAM activities and ideas, we encourage you to visit our STEAM Education board on Pinterest.