Toys help kids learn maths skills
Maths skills development begins as early as babies start exploring the world around, since maths learning refers not only to numbers and counting, but also to knowledge of shapes, patterns, measurement, and spatial sense.
Surprising as it may seem, even infants’ daily routine and activities are full of different maths concepts. For example, they listen to their parents’ counting songs and nursery rhymes and enjoy their tummy time on bright playmats with activity elements of various shapes. Infants already learn about quantity as they reach or look for more than one object.
Playing with first toys, babies learn relative size and begin to understand words like “big” or “small”. By 12 months, little learners get particularly attracted by different kinds of sorting games and stacking toys. By separating shapes based on similarities and differences, or by specific characteristics such as colour, pattern or size, babies develop their skills of classification, patterning, matching and learn problem solving.
As toddlers, they learn to recognize numbers on toy smartphones, wooden cubes and other playthings, and often sing along funny counting songs playing with their favourite interactive toys. While number sense is gradually developing, kids gain understanding that everything around can be counted, and at this stage all games including the “how many”-question contribute to the child’s success. Of course, the little ones cannot learn counting without assistance, so playing with kids to teach them basic numeracy skills is a very good idea. And soon, from rote counting toddlers will shift to rational one. At this stage wooden blocks of various shapes, sizes, colours enable them to count, compare and sort, and even practise spatial concepts like “on” and “under” as they stack. Simple puzzles may help children practise spatial skills and logic too, as they rotate and turn each piece to arrange the pattern.
Further, kids at 3–4 years continue to develop maths skills outside their playroom: talking about things around, they use classifications like height, size or gender, compare their toys and familiar objects with things of the real world, and, of course, they find numbers everywhere! Moreover, children get more interested in sorting things by purpose, pattern, and material. At this age counting, matching, classifying become usual activities as kids play with logarithmic boards or toy tablets with numeracy tasks. And, racing cars and push toys, they can talk about which came first or second, which one is close and which is far.
When maths is merged with entertainment, it naturally becomes more appealing to children. Age-appropriate board games, card games, puzzles for preschoolers aged 5 stimulate them to develop attention to detail, solve logic tasks and even do sums in order to win in a game. They are already able to identify the larger and the smaller of two numbers and recognize numerals up to 20. By this age, children can understand basic time concepts, like morning and evening, and days of the week. They become more inventive and develop their creative skills, making new scenarios for play with favourite toys. They count when they play with shopping playsets, they improvise with building blocks to make new structures, and get fascinated by balance counting toys and toy clocks. Thus, kids practise problem solving skills and enhance their maths knowledge.
Overall, maths skills are a natural part of daily life. Children’s learning of numbers, shapes and space starts with exploring these maths concepts as they interact with the world around by means of wonderful toys.