If you have read our early learning story you would know that Teaching Early math to Ed has been a bit of a struggle. After our unsuccessful attempts with Glenn Doman’s dot cards and Brillkids Little math program we knew that unless we used some fun playful method with Ed we would we would not be able to teach him other basic early math concepts beyond counting.
The recent research on the importance of Early Math shows that the knowledge of these basic concepts plays a vital role in predicting a child’s success in later learning. So we decided to shift our focus from reading and concentrate more on Math. Ed’s progress with reading has been going very well and at 26 months he had started reading short sentences in early reader books.
For Math we felt that a soft non-curriculum based approach might work best with him, so we started introducing early math concepts to him through fun games and everyday activities. For ideas, I found several blogs where parents had shared interesting math activities that they were doing with their children. That is when a friend recommended reading a brilliant book called“Marshmallow Math” by Trevor Schindeler, which she had been using with her 3 year old.
I read some other reviews and the book aligned with our needs of having a fun and play based approach in teaching young children, and so I bought the book. This is a fantastic book and a must read for any parent who wants to introduce early math to young children through games and activities in a fun and engaging way. Below is a review of the book and how it has helped us restart Ed’s early math learning.
Review: Marshmallow Math- Early Math for Toddlers, Preschoolers, And Primary School Children
The book has a total of 50 short chapters and around 145 pages. Each Chapter is basically an early math concept with fun ideas on implementing it through play. The book is well written, simple and very easy to understand. I also think that it is superb value for money as it will give you – at the least 50 practical and effective ideas on how to do math activities by incorporating them in play with a young child.
Each chapter guides you through the early math teaching process starting with basics such as counting and gradually advancing in difficulty by finally moving towards multiplication and division which is around grade1 level.
Even if the parent is not mathematically inclined or has struggled with math (like me), proceeding with the book, one chapter at a time will give you the confidence to teach math to your child. Also the book is written in a way which ensures that you always work at your child’s ability level, so that he or she won’t get frustrated or lose confidence.
The book is divided into 4 parts:
Part 1: The first part of the books focuses on counting and introduction of the basic early math concepts of addition and subtraction.
Part 2: This part explores non-arithmetic concepts such as sorting and comparing, telling time, spatial awareness, pattern making and elementary geometry. This part also suggests activities to help a child read and write numbers.
Part 3: This part continues to further develop addition and subtraction skills.
Part 4: This section introduces the concept of multiplication and division which is around a first grader’s level.
The author recommends using Part 1 and Part 2 of the book simultaneously as the early math skills such as pattern making and spatial awareness don’t follow any orderly progression of skills development and can be done at the same time with counting, addition and subtraction.
The book is called “Marshmallow Math” as it recommends using everyday objects (also called manipulatives) to teach your child early math concepts. Because a child can physically see, touch, group and manipulate the objects they are working with, they develop a better understanding of numbers and equations.
These objects could be your child’s favorite toys or age appropriate items such as coins, jellybeans, marshmallows which are used in games and activities. Most suggested activities are non traditional exercises and do not require any written work, so the methods are perfect for young children who cannot read or write. In fact, I feel if we had known about this book earlier – we could have easily started the Part 1 and Part 2 of the book with Ed when he was around 1 year old.
Our Experience with the book
We have been following the book with Ed for a few months and have mostly used Ed’s obsession for toy cars to bring math into his playtime. For example, we have brought in forward and backward counting into his favorite game i.e “play cars” on his roadway play mat which has supermarkets/circus/ parks etc. He can already count upto 20 but to reinforce the quantity association we started by counting 10 cars that he would take into the supermarket parking on the mat.
To teach him backward counting, we drive the cars out of the supermarket parking and into the circus parking. This helps him to do backward counting and forward counting at the same time. Backward counting will help him understand the concept of subtraction later, when we move to the later chapters in the book.
I think the book was brilliant in giving us ideas to actually “Talk Math” with Ed without assigning any dedicated Math time for him. This method has really helped, as Ed is literally playing with Math concepts without even knowing and most of all enjoying it like a game.
The book has shown us several ways to fit Math into our typical day from counting bumps on roads which Ed loves doing to backward counting on supermarket shopping trips.
I feel Ed is really enjoying this informal approach more as it encourages short, focused, fun time periods for doing math instead of the sessions of Little Math or Glenn Doman dot cards. Although these too are excellent methods of teaching early math to young children but sadly they were not working for us.
Marshmallow Math – Book Description
If you are considering this book, you already appreciate how important it is for your child to get a good start in learning math. Recent research in child development has emphasized the positive effects of early learning. An early exposure to number concepts will enhance your child’s cognitive capacity to learn mathematical concepts. The purpose of this book is to assist you as a parent in teaching your child fundamental number concepts at an early age.
Given the importance of early learning for cognitive development in children, Marshmallow Math begins with number concepts that young children can master before they learn to read and write numbers. The book follows a natural progression of skills that starts with simple counting. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and other mathematical concepts are introduced gradually with each new skill building upon mastered skills. The book also explores other important math concepts including sorting and comparing, telling time, spatial awareness, pattern recognition, geometry, measurement, and reasoning.
Marshmallow Math provides many quick, simple, and fun activities for you and your child to do together. The activities are appropriate for children ranging in age from toddler through to primary school. Hands-on learning and mental math are emphasized over written work and traditional exercises. Many of the activities described in the book involve the use of counting objects such as marshmallows, pennies, or jellybeans. Having physical objects to look at, pick-up, and count will help to make abstract concepts more concrete for your child.
The unique approach set out in Marshmallow Math will help to ensure that your child truly comprehends fundamental number concepts and masters basic math skills. This will give your child both the ability and the confidence to excel in math.
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