Sunday, June 19, 2011

Playing at Math

     When I look back at the seven years of Bringing Up Baby, I noticed I have not spent much time sharing information about the development of mathematical skills. Babies, equipped only with basic wiring of their brain, eventually learn math. They do this by moving about freely and exploring horizontal and vertical surfaces. The experiences they gain in moving about gives them the necessary prerequisites for learning math.
The development of the concept of object permanence is another prerequisite for learning math. Babies, beginning at about seven months, love to drop objects off of the highchair tray. They love to look to see where these objects have fallen. Soon, they will enjoy dropping objects in a container. This is the era of dumping and filling. Baby is not actually measuring how much goes into a certain size pot, but rather learning that some pots hold one block and some pots hold many.
Your baby does not actually count how many blocks go in the big pot but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It is great fun to sit with a baby who is playing the ‘put in and dump out’ game and count how many go in. Parents are great at expanding children’s thinking by adding language such as counting and labeling. “One little pig goes in, two little pigs go in, three…oh oh, all the pigs are out!” By adding language to the game, allowing baby to take the lead in the filling and dumping, you are setting the stage for a brilliant math mind!
There are some other pre-math thinking processes that will be developing right along with this concept of volume. We will explore some of these next week. In the meantime, find a few different size pots and some toys that can go in. If you’ve enjoyed the Winnie the-Pooh story of Eeyore’s birthday, you will recall his two favorite presents. They were a ‘Useful Pot to put things in’ and ‘Something to put in a Useful Pot’. Eeyore happily spent his birthday putting a deflated balloon in and out of the empty pot saying, “It goes in and out like anything.”

My red balloon goes
sailing, sailing, sailing.
My red balloon goes sailing
Over the hills and down and pop.

Pretend to blow a balloon. Reach both arms overhead to indicate a large balloon, sway from side to side as you sing. Give a big clap to pop the balloon.  Choose additional colors to expand the child’s concept development and language.

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