Array Kids Early Math Strategies | Montessori From The Heart

Kids Early Math Strategies


Kids’ Early Math Strategies promote rational counting and one-to-one correspondence in toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners.

We often talk about “kindergarten readiness,” but what about math readiness? The answer is: start early! We ‘officially’ started a Montessori Math curriculum with Adrian when he was two years old! I am a strong believer that I would rather be early than late. If the material is introduced too early, a child would simply show no interest, and you, as an educator, would simply come back to it later. On the other hand, if the material is introduced too late, the sensitive window of opportunity is closed forever, and the chance for a seemingness, natural, and effortless absorption of information is now gone! So, incorporate kids’ early math strategies into your homeschooling routine to facilitate ‘materialized abstraction’ by making abstract mathematical concepts concrete!

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Kids’ Early Math Strategies

Here are the basic math strategies you can incorporate, starting at age two and continuing to kindergarten age. Remember, repetition is the key to mastery.

Kids Early Math Strategies in a Nutshell:

Use Counters

Also called manipulatives, counters are the actual quantity. Here, I am using Montessori Checker Board Beads. (For a DIY, use pipe cleaners and pony beads ~ see details on how to make them here.) The younger the child, the more substantial the quantity should be. For example, start with Number Rods.

Use Numerals

A numeral is a written symbol to illustrate a particular quantity. Generally, a child is introduced to the quantity before any numeration is introduced. The term “materialized abstraction” refers to a process when abstract concepts (such as numeration) are materialized or made concrete through physical quantities such as Number Rods, spindles, and sandpaper numbers.

Use Fingers

Illustrating counting with fingers works great for visual learners who will benefit by watching you fold fingers on a glove. (To make it, we filled a surgical glove with red water-beads.)

Utilize Tally Marks

Tally Marks help children visualize numbers 6 through 10 as a group of 5, plus the additional ones. (See details here.)

Illustrate with Pictures

Drawing a picture is particularly helpful with addition when a child can visually see a picture of two groups or two addends.

Use a Ten-Frame

Ten-frame helps children build counting and subitizing abilities while expanding spatial awareness. Here, I am using a recycled egg carton, having cut two egg- compartments, leaving just ten and pom poms

Use a Number Line

A number line is a helpful tool for a visual linear representation of sequential numeral order. Invite a child to start with one and count up. Once a child finds the number on a line (for example, 4), remind the child to go back to number one and count up again. Ask questions: “Which number comes after four?” “Which number comes before four?” etc. Although this might seem repetitive, children thrive on repetition, leading to mastery as children continuously need to hear your words aloud to develop a strong understanding of quantity.

Spell Numbers

By spelling the number, a child gains a better understanding that a group of objects can be represented by a number name. So, if your child is about 3.5 years plus, offer a movable alphabet to spell numbers’ names. Also, offer a child to read the word as it is spelled. 


Kids Early Math Strategies | Rational Counting

Please note that counting to ten may come at different ages, and just because your child can count to ten does not mean that s/he understands what ten means. A child might learn to count just like a heart-learned poem without grasping the correlation of numeral to quantity. Without a solid understanding of how a group of ten is made, what addends constitute it, and how to take that number apart and put it back up again, children are not mastering mathematical concepts. 

Granted, in the progression of learning numbers, children first learn to count (in other words, memorize a sequence of numbers.) However, the next critical step is to understand one-to-one correspondence. In other words, numeral-to-quantity association, which means your child is matching only one number with one group of objects. (For example, a child matches number 5 with five baby animals). That is why we encourage our children to touch each object as they count it. Understanding the concept of quantity naturally leads to understanding the concept of more and less than, skip counting, and so forth.

Your child is learning by doing. So, pick a number, count it, draw it, fold fingers on a glove, fill the egg carton ten-frame, find it on a number line, etc. Remember, repetition brings progress!

Which ones of the Kids Early Math Strategies have you incorporated into your learning?


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  • Reply Micah Joan April 26, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Definitely use this resources to teach my daughter math in a fun way. Great job!

    • Reply Anya April 30, 2019 at 2:13 am

      Thank you for your kind word! So glad you can utilize the strategies with your daughter!

  • Reply Nafeesa April 27, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Very useful ideas🥰🥰🥰🥰

    • Reply Anya April 30, 2019 at 2:12 am

      Thank you very much! So glad you liked it!

  • Reply 70+ Hands-On Activities for Kindergarten  - Active Littles September 15, 2020 at 12:44 pm

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