Hands on kindergarten math games are the most natural way for children to master pre-math skills, rather than pencil and paper exercises. Skills such as the concept of patterning, equivalency, comparative size, or of course the skill of counting are learned easily with fun games. Here are a few ideas for great kindergarten math games for kids learning these various pre-math skills.
For the skill of patterning, play “Guess What Comes Next.” The teacher draws a pattern on the board – as simple as circle, triangle, circle, triangle, or as intricate as rabbit, cat, dog, rabbit, cat, dog. The student then must guess what comes next and draw the correct shape or animal in the row. Then it can be a student’s turn to draw a pattern. This can also be played with Legos or pattern blocks. The first person makes a pattern of particular colors in a row and the other student(s) then select the same colors to build a matching stack.
For the skill of equivalency, students can play kindergarten math games about “Same and Different” using a variety of props. On a table, several items are arranged together a certain way. A little further down on the table, matching items are arranged again the same way. Just one thing is different. Can the students figure out what it is? Toy dishes make great props. A plate, glass, fork, spoon, and knife can be arranged at one place, with the same arrangement repeated with say, the fork missing at the next place.
“Same and Different” can also be played with single objects, perhaps two smooth yellow balls of different sizes, or two identically sized balls of different colors. Ask the student(s), “What is the same about these balls? What is different?” This is a great way to hone in on practicing size comparisons or color matching.
Another game involving counting is the familiar “Dominoes.” Divide children into groups and play cooperatively, with children taking turns to find dominoes with the right number on them to add to and lengthen the “train.” Talk about each domino as it is placed, naming the number of dots displayed. This teaches counting, number recognition, and the use of number words, “Suzy’s looking for a domino with nine on one side – can she find one? Good job, Suzy! How many are on the other side? Very good! One, two, three, four, five! Johnny, can you find a five – maybe a double five, wouldn’t that be fun?”
“Duck, Duck, Goose,” can also join in the collection of kindergarten math games if played in skip counting style. Instead of saying, “Duck, duck, duck, duck …Goose!” students can skip count instead. For instance, “Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty …Goose!”
Another great variation on kindergarten math games involving counting is “Mother (or Father), May I.” In this game one child is the “Mother” and stands at one side of the room with her back to the other students. She calls each student one by one and says, “Take seven baby steps” or “Take three giant steps.” That student must answer, “Mother may I?” At the answer, “Yes, you may,” then that student moves the assigned number of steps, counting aloud. A student who forgets to ask that crucial question must walk all the way back to the starting line!
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