At bambolango headquarters, as in any home with young children, we are surrounded by numbers. For example, Little Boo, our 4-year-old, is struggling to understand big numbers (she gets confused when she goes over 29). And when you ask her something that requires a numerical answer, she always answers with “81”. Big Boo, meanwhile, is learning to add and subtract. And she tries to share her new knowledge with her younger sister, although she tends to explain both the problem and the solution!
Our lives are made up of many situations in which, without realising it, we need numbers. As adults, we need to know how to add and subtract in order to have the correct change when we go shopping. We need to recognise numbers to get on the right bus route. Children need them, for example, to be able to play hopscotch in the park. Or when we start an activity with a countdown, “3, 2, 1″… Hence the importance of our children knowing how to count both in their mother tongue and in their minority or acquired language.
With this is mind, we are going to give you some ideas for activities that you can do with numbers at home. They are easy, fun and educational activities. In addition, they can be adapted to suit your little one’s abilities and interests.
This activity is ideal for children aged 16 months and up. It consists simply of writing or printing the numbers you want to work with onto a sheet of paper. Write or print the numbers fairly largely so that they are easy to see and practice. Place each piece of paper into a plastic sleeve, so it can be reused whenever you like. Then trace the number with your little one’s finger and say it out loud together. Thus, they begin to know the shapes and names of the numbers. Next, use plasticine or homemade salt dough to help your child recreate or “fill” in the number.
Simple, effective, fun, sensory and educational! And all the while practicing your target language!
Numbers and rolls of paper
First of all, you’ll need to collect some rolls of toilet or kitchen paper. You will need as many as the numbers you want to practice. Then we ask our little bambolangueros to decorate the rolls to their liking, making sure they include a number on each roll.
This is where different variations of what you can do with the rolls come in. Here are 2 ideas of what you can do:
1) Ask your little one to look at the number on each roll. Then help him/her to place the same number of clothes pegs on each roll.
2) As above, ask your little one to look at the number on each roll. Then invite him/her to place the corresponding number of toys / pompoms / beans (etc.) inside each roll. Please be careful with small items and supervise your child at all times. If your little one is a bit older, you could increase the difficulty by telling him/her to use spoons or tongs to place the objects inside the rolls. This will help them to further develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Numbers in books
You already know that reading is an activity that we promote greatly at bambolango. It allows us to strengthen bonds, expand vocabulary and stimulate our little one’s imagination. It also makes conversation easier as we can ask children questions about stories, or they can even ask us questions about the books we read together.
If you haven’t seen it already, check out our original book with the numbers from 1 to 10. It’s a board book, which makes it ideal for children 0+ years. It will help you discover numbers and British culture through images such as Big Ben, black taxis, teapots and so on. You can also play by counting the images and the little dots on each page. Click here to see our numbers book.
In this article we have shared some simple and fun activities that you can do with your little ones at home to reinforce numeracy skills. Maths and numbers don’t have to be boring subjects. Just as we learn a language naturally, we can do the same with numbers! And remember that “it’s not about teaching, it’s about having fun in different languages!”
Finally, remember that we are here to help you. So, if you have any doubts or questions related to what we have said above, you can ask us in the comments section below or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written by Deborah Sigler – Bambolango director and bilingual mom of “The Trilingual Boos”.