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6 Math Activities For Car Crazy Preschoolers

Preschoolers playing with cars

6 Math Activities For Car Crazy Preschoolers

How do you make learning math fun – especially for preschool aged kids? Well if they’ve got a dad (or mom) who is passionate about cars, using toy vehicles is the way to go. If you’re in kid mode and are looking for some great and mutually engaging activities to do with your children, here are eight great excuses to play with your preschooler’s toy cars today.

Preschoolers playing with cars

1. Ready To Become Race Car Drivers? (Ordinal Numbers)

Take a wooden puzzle and turn it upside down leaning the top of it against a raised surface so that it tilts down. Line your cars up at the top and let them race down. You can award winners based on (1) which car goes that fastest and (2) which car goes the furthest. Bonus points: Create your own trophies and write words 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on them. Allow your child(ren) to practice number/word recognition by letting them pick out the correct trophy according to how their car performed.

2. Sorting Mystery: Which Sorting Rule Did I Use?

Take your vehicles and divide them up into different groups based on your chosen “sorting rule.” Then let the sorting detectives figure out which rule you used. Here are some ideas to start with:

* Sort using color
* Sort using size
* Sort using vehicle type (trucks, cars, camper vans, diggers)
* Where are the vehicles used (air, sea, land)?
* Sort by purpose (emergency vehicles vs. family wheels)

3. Equal Groups (Division)

Give your preschooler an even number of toy cars and ask him or her to share them equally. Notice what strategies your child(ren) use as the initial pile gets bigger. Ask them helping questions like, “How many do each of us get if we divide eight cars by two people? How about four people?” This is a no-stress way to introduce the idea of division.

4. Where’s My Parking Spot? (Subitizing, Number Recognition And Counting)

Create a parking with ten spots. Allocate each parking space a set of stars from 1 to 10. Then place numbered stickers on the toy vehicles. Now help your toddler or preschooler to put its automobile in its assigned parking spots.

FYI, the definition of subitizing is knowing how many items there are without having to count the items one by one. Depending on the age of your child(ren), you may find that they will do great up until a certain number and then will find the groups too large to just “know.”

5. Patterns, Patterns Everywhere

This is a super easy activity to set up. Start by making a pattern and allowing your child to continue the pattern. Or, you can identify a pattern that your child has created. Use these ideas to get started:

* Colors (blue, green, red, blue, green, red, …)
* Types (train, fire truck, train, fire truck, …)
* Size (small, big, small, big, …)

6. Where’s My Parking Spot? (Advanced)

This game is for two players. Gather two groups of cars that can be easily distinguished (e.g. a red group and a blue group, or motorcycles and race cars). Take turns rolling the dice and add up the sum for each roll. If the spot that matches the total of your roll is vacant, then put one of your cars in that spot. To cover the parking spot that was assigned the number one, you’ll have to switch to using a single die. Whichever person/team has more of their vehicles on the board at the end of the game wins (if you want to play for wins!). This numbers game came from Discover Play Learn.

So, can playing with cars really help your kid’s IQ?

Evidence shows increasingly that play is actually one of the most effective means of learning for children. For example, the Pine Manor College Child Study Center in Brookline, MA uses play intensively as part of their preschool curriculum. They even state on their website that, “Activities are planned and teachers interact with the children guiding them through exploratory play and discovery.”

As you can see, there are loads of ways to get preschoolers engaged in learning basic math skills, and bringing toy cars into the mix is a great starting point. And, just a warning… The ramp will probably be a big hit with mom and dad as well – we all need to let out our inner child sometime!

Stacy Black

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