These super easy math activities that are designed for 2-year-old and 3-year-old toddlers and can certainly help your toddler to develop their early math skills. You can include them in your toddler daily routine and repeat them over and over again. Remember that children develop at different paces. Some may gain math skills later than other children while others might be advanced for their age.
Whatever your situation is, it is undoubtedly important to focus on early math in the first five years of a child’s life. Research finds that math skills at school entry are very strong predictors of overall school achievement (Duncan et al. 2007).
If you want to read more about math skills and their development, check out the parenting resource of ZERO TO THREE. According to that, more advanced mathematical skills are based on an early math “foundation”—just like a house is built on a strong foundation. Thus, it is important to help your child begin to develop early math skills in the toddler years by introducing the 7 domains of early math:
- Number sense
- Spatial sense
Math Activities for Toddlers – Number Sense & Representation
1. Count goldfishes
2. Count cars
3. Count Balls on a Drying Rack
4. DIY Abacus
5. Match the NUMBERS
Use a foam puzzle number mat and let your little one match the number to cars, toys, or other objects.
6. Set the table
Set the table for example for breakfast and dinner together. Make sure that there is a plate and cutlery for everyone and count them.
7. Learn to count with colouring pages and toy cars
8. One for me, one for you
Always share! Cookies, snacks, fruits, napkins and whatever you can share just do it. One for me, one for you, one for daddy, one for…
When we were in Germany, Aiden used to go with his dad to get fresh eggs from a farm nearby. Counting the hens running around was not easy, but fun. The highlight was to count and put the eggs in the packaging and to pay subsequently. All in all, great activity and he broke only one time one egg!
9. Count the shoes
When you go out, count all of the shoes that go out – one, two, three, four. And count those that stay at home – even when that lasts longer.
Math activities for toddlers – Spatial sense
10. Shape sorting
Beside the toy shape sorters, you can use also empty baskets and ask your child to sort the shapes accordingly.
11. Stacking blocks
Stacking blocks is simple, but quite impressive, because it is one of the first form of geometry that toddlers learn. Make sure, that you have enough blocks at home to build up high.
Building tunnels is not only fun. It helps toddlers understand where objects are in space and in relation to other objects.
13. Mirror Play
Mirror Play is a great way to understand dimensions and the simplest form of geometric worlds. The world of contemporary mathematics might be complicated, but for us mirror play is just fun way to count and be fascinated by the dimensions of our world.
14. Magnetic Math
Math skills really stick with magnetic math. Super fascinating and fun, these activities are a must for every preschooler.
Math activities for toddlers – Measurement & Estimation
15. Check the kitchen scale
Place different fruits and plates on the scale. Note the weight and explain the difference – that’s heavier, that’s lighter. You can also try out with an empty and full glass of water.
16. What’s cookin’?
Cook together with your toddler. Let them help you to fill, stir, and pour. Those activities are not only great to learn life skills, but also through these activities, your toddler can learn naturally, to count, measure, add, and estimate.
17. What size is it?
Let’s compare what’s more, less, bigger, smaller, more than, less than…Just do it everywhere!
18. The long and the short of it
Always compare what’s longer, what’s shorter.
19. Wait for a second, wait for a minute
Toddlers want instant results. However, making them wait is beneficial. It helps them not only to practice patience, but also to develop a sense of time. Use any opportunity to demonstrate that things take time, some longer than others. We use animal kitchen timer (a monkey) at home to demonstrate time.
Math activities for toddlers – Patters & Problem-Solving
20. Find similarities and differences
Does the cat fly like the seagull? Can the duck swim like the jelly fish? Is this car also black? Finding similarities and differences helps your toddler to develop logical thinking and recognise there is more than one path to the answer.
21. Nursery Rhymes
Above all, nursery rhymes reinforce patterns. They can help your child understand what comes next and to make logical connections.
22. Play-Doh Numbers and Patterns
You can use Play-doh in many different ways with your toddler. You can help them to form numbers, shapes and other objects. Help them to put them in logical order and ask them to make predictions what comes next. The simplest form will be to make the numbers from 1 to 10 in different colours for instance. Additionally, you can help your toddler understand one-to-one correspondence, when you let them distribute objects to each number in correspondent color. You can use for example toy cars.