Research shows that talking about math with your child impacts their academic achievement in school (Berkowitz et al., 2015). One of the best things you can do as a parent to support your child’s math learning is to simply ask them math questions. This builds and reinforces important pathways in their brain, encourages math vocabulary, and shows your child that math is everywhere.
This doesn’t mean you need to develop word problems and do math worksheets together. Math talk is simple – just take an everyday activity (like snack time) and ask a few math questions. In this post, you’ll find ideas for how to incorporate math talk into your daily snack routine.
Small Item Snacks
Cereal, crackers, and nuts are perfect for basic counting activities! Give your child a handful of items and have them count how many and make groups. Start with 5 items or less and then move on to more based on where your child is in their counting journey.
While your child is counting, ensure they count one item at a time, using one number word per object. Encourage your child to touch each item and move it to the side as they count it.
Give your child some pretzel sticks and have them make shapes! As your child builds shapes, ask them questions to get them talking about shape attributes:
- How many sides does that shape have?
- How many points does that shape have?
- Can you make a circle with pretzel sticks? Why or why not?
- How can both of these shapes be triangles?
This is also a great opportunity to show your child some non-examples! Build a shape that isn’t closed or whose sides don’t meet at points. Then ask, “Which one is a square? How do you know?”
Practice sorting and making patterns with colorful snacks. When it comes to patterns, start with making the pattern yourself and having your child finish it. As your child develops their pattern-making skills, they will start to develop patterns on their own.
Colorful snacks are also great for comparing quantities. Using words like “more than” and “less than” is great for building your child’s math vocabulary.
Part-whole relationships are a foundational concept in math, and you can find them everywhere – like when you cut a piece of fruit into pieces! Depending on the fruit, using shape words may be difficult. However, you can always ask your child to find straight and round edges.
Ants on a Log
Last but certainly not least, the classic snack Ants on a Log is loaded with potential math talk! Have your child help you make this healthy and delicious snack, and ask some math questions while food prep together.
This is also a great opportunity to practice skip counting! After putting the same number of raisins on each piece, ask your child how many there are in all. They might count each individual raisin at first, but you can model or encourage them to count by 2s, 3s, or however many raisins are on each piece of celery. Who knew setting the foundation for multiplication could be so tasty?
- Choose one snack this week to intentionally incorporate math talk.
- Read more about the importance of math talk with this blog post: Math Talk for Early Learning