Tonight that happened during bath time.
My son is six years old right now, which means that he's still in Core Phase (he's still learning the lessons of that phase), but he's beginning to play with learning moments. He is always curious and thinking, but I am not always as available as I want to be at the perfect moments.
Tonight he was taking his bath, and we had a wonderful learning moment together. This made me think about how this would be so easy for all of you to recreate in your own bathtubs! Just get some inexpensive rubber ducks and frogs or other bath toys in multiples.
Now, let's sing some funny songs.
My son counted out and lined up 5 little ducks and 1 big (mommy) duck. Then we sang the song, "Five Little Ducks Went Out One day..." Each time 1 less came back, and so he adjusted the ducks accordingly.
Then he set up 5 frogs, and we sang "Five green and speckled frogs sat on a special log..." He pushed 1 frog at a time off the side of the bath tub.
This is a great way to teach the number concept of subtraction and 1 less.
The bathtub is also a great place for science -- what floats and what doesn't? what happens when I mix different colored bubble bath? And my very favorite, push the glass under water and trap an air bubble the let it out. That one never gets old for me.
At bedtime, you can sing "There were five in the bed and the little one said..."
There are some many fun games and songs that teach math concepts. Keep it fun! Remember, they need to play all the way up to age ten, depending on the child. Don't worry about the scope and sequence. Don't worry about your child deeply understanding how and why this works. Just play together.
At this age, the goal is to associate positive emotional responses to learning. When the math concept shows up later, maybe in an actual math book, you can always help him make the connection.
And speaking of math books...We just got some new ones at our house, and my kids were so excited! Yes, excited about new math books. This is due to a couple of factors. First of all, I use fun and colorful math books for my younger kids. I like to use math books, because it helps me create some type of framework. But my kids know that they are not tied to this book. They are not a slave to completing every page or completing the pages in order. And I never send them to work on their math book on their own. We sit together. Many concepts are illustrated and very "user-friendly", so I don't need to give a lot of instruction. I just stay close by. Sometimes I work on my own math problems. At this age, our children simply want to be with us. And when they are done, that's fine with me. And if we want to skip a few pages (math texts often get repetitive), that's ok too. A math book is simply a resource for my children, and they know it.
So look for those unconventional ways to teach your children. Look for ways that have you spending time together, even studying side by side.