The Manipulatives/Table Toys Center in Child Care

Multilink cubes

Manipulatives and Table Toys Support Children’s Development

A wide variety of materials used in child care and early education programs fall into the category of “manipulatives,” including different types of building bricks and toys, collections of objects for sorting, small dolls and animals, and many other types of toys. Manipulatives, sometimes referred to as table toys, are an important part of the early childhood curriculum because children can use them to practice a wide variety of skills. Some …

Basic Math Skills in Child Care: Greater Than, Less Than, and Equal To


One important part of teaching young children about math is helping them learn the concepts of “more than,” “less than,” and “equal to.” These concepts are key in beginning to understand addition and subtraction. With society increasing focus on the importance of reading, writing, and arithmetic, we are beginning to see more advertisements pushing for the use of flash cards, even beginning in infancy.  Although this is a popular trend, using flash cards to help young children memorize math and …

Math in Child Care

Tangram tiles

Math is everywhere, and it’s more than just learning numbers. When children sort crayons by color, put puzzles together, build with blocks, count their raisins during snack, and sing “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” they are learning about math. These kinds of hands-on learning activities create a solid foundation for children to understand shapes, sizes, length, addition, and subtraction. Children who have the opportunity to learn math-related concepts in early childhood often do better in school and are …

Young Children's Developing Math Skills

Child care providers often ask when children develop basic math skills. Children begin to learn some specific ways of thinking about mathematics in their first 6 years. Below is a brief listing of when some of these basic skills typically develop. Remember that every child is different and will learn each of these skills at a slightly different time.

Baby chewing on colorful beads

0 to 2 Year Olds

  • use all of their senses to identify familiar objects and people
  • begin to predict and anticipate

Basic Math Skills in Child Care: Creating Patterns and Arranging Objects in Order

Building cubes

Ordering, sequencing, and patterning are important foundational skills for mathematics. Child care providers can build young children’s early math skills by help them learn sequencing, seriation, and patterning.

  • Sequencing is the ability to create and identify patterns. For example, children may stack blocks in a pattern of red, blue, red, blue, and so on. As adults, using calendars is one way we use sequencing skills. We look at a calendar and look for the pattern that helps us predict what

Basic Math Skills in Child Care: Subtraction and Addition

Linking disks

Teaching preschool children about addition and subtraction should be fun and hands on, as opposed to just memorizing math facts such as 1 + 1 = 2 or 4 – 1 = 3.

Although flash cards are being advertised as a popular trend, even in infancy, using flash cards to help young children memorize math and other facts is not appropriate for young children because the concepts don’t have any real meaning to them. Young children get more out of …

Basic Math Skills in Child Care: One-to-One Correspondence and Counting

Colorful pegs

When it comes to math, child care providers often emphasize counting. Counting involves memorizing the number words in the proper order (one, two, three, four, five…). Young children are capable of recognizing numbers from one to 10. They can learn the number names as well as recognizing the number symbols.

One-to-one correspondence is being able to use this knowledge to skillfully count an actual number of objects. A child that understands one-to-one correspondence knows that 2 cookies = 2 or …

Three "Bs" in Child Care: Blocks, Balls, and Books

book center with loft

Some of the best toys for kids have been around for a long time. Blocks, balls, and books are simple, durable, and fun and can help children build skills. They can also be enjoyed by kids of all ages. These should be staples in every child care program.

About Blocks

Blocks are good toys, because children of different ages can use them in different ways. Infants like to carry them around and dump them into and out of containers. Toddlers …