By Jenny Yun-Chen Chan and Michèle Mazzocco

Key points:

● All kinds of play present opportunities to develop children’s early math skills.

● A great way to promote early math learning is to expand on children’s own comments and observations, letting children lead the play.

● We share ideas for deepening mathematical thinking during block and pretend play.

Playtime offers many opportunities for exploring early math. How can parents and caregivers take advantage of these opportunities to help children expand their mathematical thinking?

Explore Math While Playing, No Matter the Toy

In our research, we watched families play and talk together. We found that different types of toys…


By Herbert P. Ginsburg

It is often said that math is all around us. Playgrounds, for instance, can be a great place for caregivers and children to explore the math around them as they play. Let’s see what that means for a young child and a caregiver. (I have italicized the everyday math words used in this blog post.)

Notice Math Around You

Cassie, 2 years and 3 months old, is at her local playground. Math is all around her, whether she notices it or not.


By Eric Dearing and Sara Schnitzer

Key Points:

  • Any book with pictures can be a counting book.
  • There are easy ways to build children’s counting knowledge while reading together.
  • See how real families use picture books to support their children’s counting skills.

“How many elephants are on this page? Let’s count them! What number is this? Let’s trace it with our fingers!”

Picture books offer many opportunities for young children to practice counting, a key early math skill. They are also really fun to read!

Read and Build Counting Skills

Any book with illustrations or numbers can be a counting book. Reading both written numbers…


This guest blog by Amy Tanner, professor of mathematics education at Brigham Young University and founder of The Kids’ Quadrant website, suggests ways to engage all children in early math learning.

Key Points:

  • There are ways to make math engagement meaningful and positive for all children.
  • Math is full of opportunities for creativity and storytelling.
  • Showing interest in children’s thinking supports their early math development.

My two children are very different and have been from the moment they were born. They have different food preferences, different fears, and different ways of showing affection. They also have very different interests: One…


By Jenny Yun-Chen Chan, Michèle Mazzocco, and Megan Onesti

Key Points:

  • Math is “hiding” in many everyday family activities (we offer tips for finding it).
  • Parents and caregivers support their children’s math development when they notice and talk about math in their daily routines.
  • Deepen children’s math thinking by expanding comments and asking questions.

There are many opportunities in daily life to encourage young children to think mathematically. These early math learning opportunities can be informal and playful additions to family routines. …


By Christina Mulcahy, Julia Ratchford, Crystal Day-Hess, and Douglas H. Clements

Key Points:

  • Don’t Burn Your Feet is a playful way for children to learn about shapes while also moving their bodies.
  • Building knowledge around shape concepts involves more than just knowing the names of familiar shapes.
  • This game can be adapted so children can practice and develop their shape knowledge.

How to Play

Don’t Burn Your Feet will get your child jumping around — inside or out — while exploring shape concepts. You can download the instructions and ideas for making this activity easier or harder here or at the end of…


By Cristina Carrazza, Michelle Hurst, and Susan Levine

Key Points:

  • Children develop attitudes toward math through their interactions with parents and caregivers.
  • Positive math attitudes support children’s interest in math learning.
  • There are simple strategies that families can use to promote positive math attitudes.

Exploring math together as a family supports children’s early math development. But the learning goes beyond just the math content. The messages that parents and caregivers send to their children while engaging in math also shape the way that children think about math. …


By Claudia Kruzik, Emily McDowell, and Eric Dearing

Key Points:

  • Many family routines, from setting the table to reading books, offer opportunities to learn early math.
  • Family math is parents, caregivers, and young children exploring math together.
  • Videos that showcase families engaging in early math learning can be useful to anyone interested in supporting family math.

“Bravo!” Albertina declares, cheering on her young son, Angel, who has correctly picked the sock that comes next in a pattern they are creating with laundry. They sit side-by-side, grabbing black and white socks from a basket and working together. …


by Colleen Oppenzato

Key Points:

  • Understanding how children think can play an important role in promoting early math development.
  • Videos that explain children’s thinking are useful for everyone who is interested in supporting early math teaching and learning.
  • DREME developed a set of free video resources that explore children’s thinking around key early math concepts (links to the videos are at the end of this blog post).

A young child, Jennifer, is asked to solve a story problem. The rabbit has 3 carrots and the squirrel has 4 carrots. How many carrots do they have all together? Jennifer answers 6…


By Christina Mulcahy, Julia Ratchford, and Douglas Clements

Key Points:

  • Magician’s Tricks is a fun game for families that helps young children learn and practice counting skills and number relationships.
  • Counting involves many different concepts and skills.
  • Magician’s Tricks can be personalized to help your child practice their counting skills and develop new ones.

About the Game

In Magician’s Tricks, your child will use magic to figure out what number is on hidden cards that the other player picks. (The magic consists of clever counting!) All you need to play are some numbered cards, which makes this game easy to play anywhere you need to…

DREME Network

A network of scholars in early math education, conducting research & developing materials to promote young children’s math learning. https://dreme.stanford.edu

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