Happy Math Education Month! In April, we join educators all over the world in celebrating how much math enriches our lives and our communities. The importance of math education stretches far beyond academic success and the earlier we teach students essential math skills, the more they’ll be prepared to thrive in every aspect of their lives.
What are some advantages of early math education? Research shows that students who grasp math skills early on often gain the following advantages:
- Higher grades and standardized test scores 
- Stronger interest in math and a greater love of learning 
- Larger vocabulary range and better reading skills [3,4]
- Better social-emotional skills, particularly self-awareness and self-management 
- Reduced need for classroom discipline or intervention 
Not sure how to celebrate this educational holiday while inspiring a love of mathematics in your young students? Count to ten with us as we explore these fun math activities that younger and older elementary school children are sure to enjoy!
1. Math Time Scavenger Hunt: If you’re looking for counting activities that engage young students, try organizing this math-themed scavenger hunt. Set your kids on an adventure around your home or classroom while searching for amounts of different items like toys or pieces of candy.
2. Hopscotch Calculator: Sometimes kids need to get their wiggles out and when that happens, it’s time to bring educational math games outside. This fun variation of hopscotch will teach kids how to add and subtract small numbers while encouraging a love of learning.
3. Go Fish by Tens: Addition and subtraction games are a fun way to teach children the basics of math. “Go Fish by Tens” will instruct children how to count to ten while playing a card game they already know and love.
4. Make Believe Store: If you want to show students how math is a practical skill they can use every day, try playing money activities. This pretend store game can help teach children about personal finance as early as elementary school or even PreK!
5. Shaving Cream Addition and Subtraction: Kids love shaving cream activities, and this one can help them practice how to do basic addition and subtraction problems. Plus, for children who respond best to sensory activities, this game can teach them math in a way that works best for their minds.
6. I Spy with a Twist: Did you know that recognizing shapes is a fundamental math skill? This variation on “I Spy” can help kids spot the different shapes that they see every day, like a round clock or rectangular book.
7. Paper Plate Clock: This hands-on telling time activity can help kids learn to read analog clocks. After each child makes their own paper clock, they can move the hands around on their own and practice telling time.
8. Math Picture Books: Reading picture books about simple arithmetic to your students can make learning more enjoyable and bring multisensory learning to your math lessons!
Borrow these fun, educational picture books from the library and have a math-themed storytime:
- Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin, Jr.
- Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
- Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
- Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
- My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
9. Watch This Video About Zero: You and your students use zero to do everything from counting to adding and subtracting, but do you know how essential this number really is? Show this video about the history and importance of zero to older elementary school students as a fascinating Math Education Month activity.
10. School Math Night: Now that you’ve discovered a variety of different math games, plan a family math night in April! Kids can play interactive math activities while showing parents everything they’ve learned in class this year.
Barnett, W.S. Early Childhood Education. Rutgers University Center for Early Education, 2002, pp. 1-17.
Fisher, P. H., Dobbs-Oates, J., Doctoroff, G. L., & Arnold, D. H. Early math interest and the development of math skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2012, 104(3), pp. 673-681.
Barnett, W.S., and Ackerman, D.J. Costs, Benefits, and Long-Term Effects of Early Care and Education Programs: Recommendations and Cautions for Community Developers. Community Development Journal, December 2006, 37(2), pp. 86-100.
Bakken, L., Brown, N., and Downing, B. Early Childhood Education: The Long-Term Benefits. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 2017, 31(2), pp. 255-69.