Math and Early Learners

Our province’s curriculum lays out learning standards for all students starting with kindergarten. To explore math in a play-based program like the Dalhousie Community Kindergarten, we explore math ideas and language by manipulating objects, experimenting with materials such as blocks, natural items, playdough and paint, playing with games and puzzles, and occasionally doing worksheets.

We explore math ideas and language in a wide variety of ways.

Understanding quantity up to the number 10 is more than being able to count (forward and backwards).   We help children make the important connection between a written number and a physical group of items. We help develop the ability to recognize a group without counting (think of “seeing” the dots on a dice and knowing the number) and encourage children to use comparative language like “more”, “less” or “too many”. Our activities help them understand that you can show a quantity in different ways – with a number, shown as a diagram or chart, and as groups or arrangements of items.

Foundations in geometry deal with shape, size, position and direction of movement. In kindergarten we make sure that children can recognize two and three dimensional shapes. We explore measurement and estimating by attributes like length, area, capacity, and mass and compare and describe objects and place them in order or patterns using concepts like bigger, longer, heavier, etc. 

Identifying patterns helps with problem solving and is an important part of a student’s development with overlaps with many areas of learning. In kindergarten, we help children recognize and build patterns with sounds, objects, pictures, symbols and actions. We sing, dance, sort objects, create artwork, and look for patterns in nature and our surroundings.

We also teach the concept of time as a sequence of events. We identify time using numbers or words, and use vocabulary like first, next, last, yesterday, tomorrow, etc. Every morning we look at our calendar. What day is it today? (a number and a word). What was yesterday? What day is it tomorrow?

Math learning opportunities are everywhere! At home, you can reinforce learning during many everyday activities. Playing games and reading books are always time well spent. Look for and name patterns anywhere. Baking together teaches measurement and quantity. You can also have fun measuring items using objects like paper clips, toothpicks, marshmallows or fish crackers to compare sizes. Count out crackers, grapes, etc. at snack time (eating them is great for backwards counting), or use a deck of cards to put numbers in order – then remove some and having your learner fill in the missing ones!

You can find information about Alberta’s current draft curriculum at