Hello, I am trying to teach basic math to preschoolers using math fridge magnets. I would like to know how many people tried this to teach kids basic math. Any specific recommendations or exercises to make this process more efficient and engaging for a child? Thanks, Leon

3 boys, 1 girl 4-5 years old Have you tried using math fridge magnets or similar things to help them acquire basic math skills?

Is that a thing PreK does? Don't they just learn 1:1 correspondence? (I'm sincerely asking. I don't know anything about shorties.)

Other math manipuatives would be better...color tiles, unifix cubes...you want them COUNTING and developing good number sense, one-to-one correspondence.

I agree with czacza, it's important to keep the manipulatives and the counting as realistic and non-abstract as possible. Students this age can often "count", but many times it's just a memorized sequence, the same as reciting the alphabet. Just as students this age might think elemeno is a letter of the alphabet, they are still developing number sense. Some curricula deemphasize objective exploration and play, and I've seen the results lingering in third through fifth grade. Some students this age think that numerals and algorithms in a math book are just that, printed material to which a memorized procedure should be applied to hopefully get the right answer, and not a symbolic representation of any actual situation. Some students think equals means put the answer after the = or under the ______. A keynote speaker a workshop many years ago told how he interviewed older elementary students and asked them to describe addition and subtraction--many, who could add and subtract proficiently, didn't have a clue what he was talking about! Something I've used in third grade (once we got computers), I'd make multiple copies of a graphic and apply magnetic tape to the back. I'd relate this to a story. If I were teaching preschool, I'd start with a big-book read aloud, then develop some arithmetic explorations around that. Another idea, cereal (or a less sugary treat) makes a great counting manipulative; I'd use paper plates for mats to hold the manipulatives. This can be turned into a game for subtraction. The teacher or a student closes her/his eyes and the students eat a certain amount of cereal. Then the class explores how much is left of each student's cereal and how much each person ate. If I were teaching preschoolers this, I'd probably focus mostly on the exploration, and encourage student descriptions of what occurred, (even if the students became imaginative and said something like, "A monster ate them!") I wouldn't require any formal descriptions, such as "I had 10 Cheerios, I ate 3 Cheerios, and now I have 7 Cheerios." In other words, we'd discuss the minuend, subtrahend, and difference in kid language. I would probably run the experiment in several ways, perhaps starting with myself eating the cereal and one student closing her eyes as a demonstration, perhaps taking turns that way as in other preschool games, and then perhaps the entire class doing it at once, and later adding other variations; (I'd run the experiment for at least 2 or 3 days if not more).

I'm still confused as to just what you're teaching them for basic math. I suppose fridge magnets are as fine a manipulative as any for moving doo-dads around and gaining that essential number sense, but really, it's not complex. If you're trying to talk about adding and subtracting and official equations formats, you're in the wrong territory.

No. Some kids that age might begin to get the idea behind multiplication at that age, because they can generalize the pattern, but subtraction is more abstruse than it looks. For kids that age I might point out naturally occurring examples of subtraction ("I'm putting four crackers on your plate. One, two, three, four. Oops! You ate one! Now how many do you have? Three, right? Four minus one is three.") I might even write out the number sentence, by way of exposing the kid to the notation, but there's no chance I'd expect it to be mastered, any more than I expect kids to pick up a big word on first use (or second, or third).

Your little students need to have basic subitizing down before they can comprehend the concepts of what you see as computations. Magnets with numbers on them are great if you have objects to count next to them so they can see and recognize the symbol 4 (for example) is for four objects.