Birth - Age 3 Math

How Can I Help My Child At Home?


  • Having a routine will help infants develop recognition of patterns
  • Count in front of your child
  • Adapt nursery rhymes so that numbers are in them
  • Place objects/ toys outside your child's immediate area so they practice reaching for it
  • Point out numbers in books
  • Allow your child to repeat the same activity
  • Around 9-12 months, try to see if your child will stack blocks
  • Around 12 months, practice hiding an object from your baby and bringing it back. Many babies will know that it still exists even though they cannot see it
  • Around 12 months, provide buckets or baskets so your baby can fill and empty them

Using toys are a fantastic way to support some math skills in young children. However, be careful when choosing toys as some can be a choking hazard for infants. A good strategy to use when determining the safety size of a toy is to see if it can pass through a toilet paper roll. If it can, it is unsafe for your baby.


  • Around 12-24 months begin helping your child use "more" and "no more"
  • Point out numbers in your environment (page numbers in books, clocks, phone)
  • Use size words such as, big/little, or tall, taller, tallest, etc.
  • Play with and put together simple puzzles
  • Provide opportunities for measuring during daily routine activities such as bath time, cooking, or during sensory play
  • Listen to music and tap to the beat
  • Practice sorting objects by their attributes (colors, shapes, sizes, etc.)
  • Build block structures and model more complex figures
  • Play hopscotch (model how to make square, write the numbers, count numbers, etc.)


Have a block play area FLC Video Image

  • Small toys, objects, and blocks are some of the most important teaching tools for early childhood. Blocks support children's learning in math and science as a means of learning complex concepts. As children combine, sort, count or describe the characteristics of these small objects, they are using active, hands-on strategies for problem solving, exploration and experimentation and scaffolding previous knowledge and interactions to learn new information and build problem solving skills.
  • Create a home environment in which appropriately sized blocks for your child's age are a part of their play space. When playing with blocks follow your child's lead with how to build their structure by joining in and adding a block. Then make your own more complex structure for your child to see.
  • Sort blocks by color, shape, size during clean up or use the blocks for different purposes while playing (i.e. to build a road for cars or house for a doll).
  • Play Will it Balance? by gathering toys and items and placing them across the middle of tall block. Are the sides of the toys the same, or different? Did it balance or fall to one side? Discuss why did or did not fall off the block. Make a prediction of what will happen with the next item you try to balance, by saying "I think the _____ will fall off because the sides are different sizes."


Introduce patterns in your daily routine FLC Video Image

  • It takes time for ideas about patterns to become obvious to young children. These ideas will develop over time but only with numerous exposures and experiences. Start to identify simple patterns by playfully using everyday household items to gain your child's attention.
  • While folding laundry lay out a pattern across the floor with colored socks (blue sock, green sock, blue sock, green sock). Or, while playing outside, point out a fence that has pattern such as little, little, big, etc.
  • Allow your child to develop their own patterns in their environment with toys or everyday objects. Be prepared for creativity and continue to model correct simple patterns in fun ways.


Keep a height chart

  • Every toddler loves to play the game "You're so big" game. Adding a height chart enriches this interaction. Post a tape measure or large homemade ruler up a wall. Measure how tall your child is, to track their height over time while learning so many new skills.
  • For younger toddlers you can identity their height, represent it in a number, and show how they are "taller" now that they grew "more".
  • For order toddlers, you can measure your child's height "daily" or "weekly", count how many feet tall, and identify half's.
  • Measuring height can also be done my using objects, such as a block, "You are three blocks tall". Once the idea catches on you can measure lots of objects and identity which is shorter, taller, longer, wider, etc.


Michigan Early Childhood Standards of Quality for Infant and Toddler Programs
Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families
PBS Parents
Preschool Math, Bod Williams, Debra Cunningham and Joy Lubawy