by Chalimar Ríos
Two challenges educators face when offering board games is group size and child interest. Playing board games has many benefits, but depending on children’s skill sets, educators may need to be more hands-on. Begin by making sure each child is interested in being part of the game. It is important to have their attention before giving directions, so they can understand them clearly. If you have a small group, you might want to include yourself as part of the game, take turns with children, and celebrate their attempts so they can understand you are happy to engage and play with them. For large groups, some suggestions are to sort children by age or interest. You may want to begin by playing with the most excited number of children and then try gathering the rest of the group at a different time to play and have a much quieter or individualized experience.
Each month, a math game is included in the Fireflies preschool kit. In March, during the Egg-citing Changes theme, we explore changes in weather and nature and also reinforce the oval shape. If you haven’t opened your March Fireflies Teacher Pack, do so with me while you read about the March math game and the benefits of using this tool in your setting! The Colored Eggs March Math Game is a color matching activity; children are encouraged to place the egg pieces in the corresponding nest according to color.
Benefits of using the Math Game
Games are an important foundation of a child’s development and learning process. Since early childhood, much of their learning is through games and interactions with familiar adults. Young children begin to understand and learn math concepts through movement and environmental stimuli. For example, children learn the concept of “time” through sounds, music, or gestures that indicate it is time to eat, play, or rest. Children also learn through the directions or commands we give, such as when we encourage them to share toys: “Leah, you have two dolls, please give one to your friend.” Through this example and similar situations, children explore math concepts such as adding, subtracting, and even division!
By using math games, children develop the ability to solve problems, think carefully, follow rules and limits, learn the concepts of consequence and reward, review, observe, appreciate cooperative learning, and develop math appreciation.
Cues for including the Math Game in your daily routine
- Incorporate the Colored Eggs March Math Game as you review the color and shape of the month.
- Set out the Math Game in one of your play areas, such as the science table or dramatic play.
- Use it a few times a week to review colors with dual language learners. Other than learning to sort by color, children will be able to learn the names of the colors in both English and their home language.