Preschool Math “Curriculum” Outline/Daily Routine Ideas

24 Feb

 Preschool Daily Math Routine Ideas


If you don’t have time to make up a preschool curriculum (and honestly a structured curriculum is not really necessary at this young age), here are some ideas. Just grab the list each day, pick some activities and play!


Once you find “winner” activities, make manipulatives for them and store in a box for timesavers.  A lot of times though, using real objects is more fun so don’t worry if you don’t have the time to make/find worksheets, manipulatives.


If you feel lost without a schedule or plan, I suggest:


Doing numeration activities daily (counting, numeral recognition, making sets, sequencing, etc.) and then cycling through the other activities (concepts) as they appear in the list on a regular basis.  (My point is that you don’t have to do a lot of planning at this age. So to avoid the trap I fall into by trying to overplan, just work your way through the list and don’t worry about the order). Just my advice from my experiences………………


So many spontaneous, teachable/learning moments arise during the day.  You also do not want to overstimulate your little one by overplanning. Some kids don’t need a lot of structured learning at this age and then some kids love it. 


I.        Numeration


Set a target number. Move on to another target number when the number is “mastered.” (even if its just the next number; or you could go by sets of 5s…1-5, 6-10, etc. Mastered is subjective. It can be when a number is recognized, sets can be made, etc. For more advanced students, you can include being able to write the number in your mastery criteria.


Rote Counting

·        Point and Count to numbers in order on number chart/line;

·        Count with physical activity (do an activity such as jumping, clapping, blinking eyes, bouncing a ball, marching, jumping jacks while counting); alternatively, count the number of bounces, jumping jacks, blinks, etc)

·        How high can we go? 

(While sitting in a circle, the children count in turn (or mom and preschooler). The object is to see how high the group can count before missing a number. A marker can be placed on a number line to record the last correct number. Repeat and compare the current score with the recorded score. Move the marker forward when the old record is broken. (from NCDPI)



·        point to a random number  on a number chart that is called out; or using numeral cards, have student pick out the correct card. Student can also draw a set of that many for the card chosen.

·        find numerals that teacher dictates in books, labels, etc

·        Using numeral cards, ask student to give you the number 2, etc. Can also do with wooden blocks that have numbers on them, etc.

·        Put numerals on a spinner, child calls out number that spinner lands on





Matching Sets

·        Match numeral to sets (worksheet or file folder activity where the numeral is matched with a set representing that numeral)


Making Sets

·        Given a numeral card (or oral number), make/draw a set representing that number (use candy, real life objects)



Counting Sets

·        Count real life objects (candy, shoes, pencils, all windows in the house, etc)

·        Ask how many noses, chins, lips, etc preschooler has.



                        Use premade cards with the number before, after, or in between missing

·        What comes before?

·        What comes after?

·        What comes inbetween

·        Using toys or other objects, tell student to line up the objects by your instructions (e.g. put the blue skittles first, put the red one second). Once objects are lined up, ask what is first, third; then what place is the red skittle in?etc. Then, let child give you directions for lining up objects.


More /Less

·        Have student compare written numerals or sets to see which is more/less



Writing Numerals

·        Write or trace numerals (on paper, in sand, rice, etc)

·        Pick a numeral card, write the numeral on the board or draw that many items.




·        Make numerals by gluing macaroni on an outline letter; make out of pipe cleaners, etc.





·        Simon Says (hop 4 times, leap 3 times, touch your toes x times, etc)

·        Mother May I? (“Mother” gives a command for moving forward x times by different means—heel to toe, regular steps, baby steps, giant steps; student asks Mother May I? to do so. First to reach Mother wins. Move before permission is granted and you must start all over again.

·        Backwriting. Take turns writing numerals on back and guessing what numeral was written

·        Detective: Materials: boxes or cups labeled 6, 7, 8, 9; 30 buttons, jewels, connecting cubes, etc. Instructions: Put buttons in each cup according to the label. When the children aren’t looking, secretly take a button from one cup and hide it in your pocket.

Ask a child to count the buttons in one cup to see if one is missing. After

counting, ask whether the number matches the label on the box. Repeat with

each cup until you come to the incomplete set. Show the missing button. Let

the child add it to the set and then recount. After children understand this

activity, they can play in pairs. One child can take a button and the other

child is to find the incomplete set. Then they can switch roles. (from NCDPI)


II.      Addition/Subtraction

·        Give simple stories to have student find the sum/difference (e.g. You have two cookies. Then you give one to me, how many cookies do have left?)


III.    Shapes

·        Identify shapes on a chart, worksheet, in books, in the environment or from shape cutouts (or tangram pieces).

·        Trace dotted shapes, complete the shape, trace around a template (e.g. a round lid)

·        Sort shapes on a sorting mat or into piles.

·        Games –

o       Go Fish with shape cards

o       Put shapes on a spinner, child calls out shape that spinner lands on

o       Find the shape – put shapes in a bag. Call out a shape, student feels around in bag for the shape

o       Spin a shape/number. Two spinners One with a shape, one with a numeral). Student spins both spinners. If a 3 and circle come up, he colors in 3 circles on a premade recording sheet.  You play with student. The first to fill in the sheet completely wins. (from NCDPI)



IV.   Other Concepts/Activities


·        Big/little- worksheets, books. Which is big/little? Find something bigger/smaller

·        Tall/short.- Which is taller? Which is shorter? Find something taller/shorter.

·        Long/short. Which is long? Short? Find something longer/shorter.

·        Light/heavy. Which one is heavier? Lighter? Find something heavier/lighter.

·        Empty/Full- worksheets or real objects. Which is full/empty?

·        Positions – on top of, below, beside, etc. Using an object, place it in different positions and student must tell where it is. Or. Give position command and student must place the object where told to; alternatively do worksheets. 

·        Right/left –

o       Which hand do we eat with? Make istinja with?

o       Hokey Pokey. Put your right hand in………. or a variation, raise your right hand, left hand, left foot, right foot, etc.

o       Incorporate use of hands in other activities (raise your right hand when you hear the correct answer to a question, when you hear a certain sound, etc).

·        Work Puzzles (3-10 pieces); cut up cereal box panels into a puzzle.

·        Simple patterns. Place toys or shapes in patterns. Ask what comes next; have student extend the pattern with objects. Also make patterns with claps and snaps, etc. Look for patterns in the environment.

·        Outline match.  Teacher traces around objects. Student matches the object to the correct outline.

·        What’s different? Same? What doesn’t belong. Worksheets or real life objects.

·        Sort- general sort. Have students sort out keys, toys, nuts and bolts, snack mix, candy


Also, use preschool math concepts (and others) when looking at books. Ask preschooler to  count how many cars are on the page, which car is bigger, what is the function of various objects, which do you like, what color is…., find the blue…..etc)

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Posted by on February 24, 2009 in Preschool



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