No Math Secrets Here

I promised some children math books and math games in my last week’s post. I need to not make promises, for I had another thing come up I would have liked to think through here. I was offered an opportunity to teach preschool at Abe’s school next fall. After going back and forth and back and forth… I believe I am going to accept it! Expect a “worries and hopes” post on that, but NO promises!

Quick Recap of Math Standards

To sum up what I said in my previous post concerning math standard in schools, I believe the standards are helpful as milestones and developmental guides, but they can become harmful in the case of too much pressure.

Since last week, I also read The Man Behind the Common CORE Math. It is a good read and kind of emphasized my points. I was a bit disappointed to find out the standards were heavily influenced by the pressure for the US to be competitive with other countries in standardized testing. I do not believe a competitive drive should be the influence on the standards, ESPECIALLY if being assessed by standardized tests. Still, there were many other great influences and the men behind the math portion of the CORE were very knowledgeable on the big picture of math. It is interesting to note one of the main creators of the standards has a daughter in school, and he is frustrated and unsatisfied with how the standards have been IMPLEMENTED.

The CORE Curriculum does not extend to preschool, so Iowa uses Early Learning Standards (IELS). Again, these are human-made and are not perfect. But, they are good guidelines for the developing child’s mind. I need to say I misspoke in my last post. IELS are what preschool educators are using for standards and they are using GOLD practices to check for the achievement of these standards. I thought the standards were called GOLD standards. Please be aware of the differences between standards (the COREand IELS) and the implementation practices (GOLD and curriculums).

Math Standards for a Preschooler

Here are the IELS taken directly from the handbook of standards:

This first standard deserves some attention and clarification. For children to “UNDERSTAND counting” does not mean the higher they can count the better. A child who can count to 100 has not really achieved anything if they have no number sense. Children who have cardinality (the ability to answer the question- how many?) and number sense are in a much better position than the child who rattles off the series of numbers.

Also, a lot of focus goes into symbol recognition. Many apps work on children recognizing the symbol 2 as pronounced two. Simply knowing the symbols again does not mean number sense.

Now, I am not saying do not teach counting to high numbers or symbol recognition. Introduce as much as you can, but choose the focuses with meaning and depth. Try to fuel those activities and curiosities.

In the classes I took on approaching math with young kids, they are teaching number sense using 5 frames and 10 frames as a tool with counting. These tools organize the counting and keep the sets small. The child gains a good foundation to grow their number sense and really UNDERSTAND counting.

My goal then is to familiarize Abe with some of the concepts of the IELS standards. Again, I will not pressure anything at this age, but I do want to pressure myself to familiarize Abe so he has contexts to the concepts. My hope is to spark interest as I put a diverse set of math experiences out there for him. Comfort with math situations and the state of not knowing, I think, addresses math as a spider in the room if you know what I mean. Of course, one great way for such young minds to be introduced to many of the math concepts is through games and books.

Games and Books We Have Used

I am only giving the links for books and games we have actually read and played. I at first got a little intimidated when I did a search on other blogs and sites who made suggestions like me. There are a lot! I need to be trying more stuff! I am not claiming these are perfect, but they have maintained my kid’s interest while teaching him some of these skills. Here are some suggestions and what they teach.

Disclaimer: The product links on this website are affiliate links which means that in the case of you purchasing a certain product through one of my links, you are supporting me to get a commission from that purchase. This commission is at no additional cost to you.


Poke-A-Dot Counting ($36)- One-to-one counting up to 10

I did not realize how expensive this book was, as it was a gift. I wish I had known and not let Abe stand on it to ruin the binding… We have the book with the Old McDonald theme, and Abe LOVED this book. It has bubble buttons, like the ones on top of fast food pop lids. Who doesn’t like pushing those! Kids count the animals or objects by pushing the buttons, which ensure they do not double count.

Sort it Out ($8.85)- Sorting

This book is a little rat sorting all of his hoardings. The little reader can identify what attribute or thing in common the rat is sorting the groups into. It is very cute, and Abe loves to shout out the attributes- it also helps that it is a book with rhymes.

Annos Counting Book ($15)- Counting

This book I have not read to Abe yet, but an instructor in one of my early education math courses showed me this. The book has multiple ways of looking at counting for kids to explore.

Groovy Joe Dance Party Countdown ($14.39)- Counting and basic operations

This is a really cute story with a catchy song. We danced to the story/song, and there is an online reading of it here. There are also lesson ideas for this book at the Scholastic site.


Going Places 4-in-1 Puzzle ($12)- Sorting, shapes

Abe loved this puzzle since his early 2’s. There are four puzzles- a plane, train, dump truck, and boat. When Abe was about 3, he was sorting out the pieces on his own while benefitting from the hand-eye coordination, shapes, patterns, spatial recognition, and just problem-solving skills puzzles are great for.

Tenzi ($10.95)- Subitizing, counting

This game consists of 4 sets of 10 colored dice. We just pick our colors and use 4 or 5 dice. The goal is to roll until the dice all are of the same number. Abe has a hard time rolling more than one dice at a time. He also still needs a little help getting his decision started on that first roll. For example, if he rolled a couple 1’s and a 4 and 5, I would prompt him to go for 1’s since he may have less rolling to do to get all 1’s. I guess there are 77 different ways to play this game too.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel ($16.16)- Counting up to 5, some basic operations

This game is a lot like Hi Ho Cherry O, if you are familiar iwth that. It’s just a cute version that also works on colors.

The End, but Just the Start

Sorry about my short lists, and also this post being late. I had some unfortunate technology problems, and I had to start this post all over.

Please! Share any and all math resources with me! I will continue to expand these lists. I am really going to be getting into more research on best teaching approaches for little minds. This type of stuff really excites me.

Thanks for reading and your patience with me and this post.


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