Math mats are a wonderful way to scaffold and expose children to number sense concepts, like one-to-one correspondence, counting, and number recognition. The idea originated with an old program – Math Their Way (I think). I used math mats as a kindergarten student teacher with Mrs. Kliefoth in Thermalito back in “the day”, and was reintroduced to them at the I Teach K conference by Kim Adsit last summer. I have class sets of math mats I made sitting in the master bedroom closet (along with a billion other boxes of teacher stuff… who needs clothes anyway!) but have pulled them out to use in a modified way with Landon. The beauty of them is you can start simple with one to one practice or use them for addition and subtraction practice and everything in between. I have a great system to implement and track student progress in a class setting (ask if you want it).

Materials Needed: (Free downloads too!)

  • Number cards (I use a set of 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, ect.)
  • Math Mats – You are welcome to download and print the set I use here, but you can easily make your own as well, just think of a “scene” that would require counters to go with that scene, use clip art and you have it made! Copy 6-8 of each picture. You want a lot of the same picture for repetition practice with the math concepts. You want to have lots of different scenes too… that way you can mix it up! I print them on card stock and also laminated everything. You’ll need to get the counters for the mats, I tried to make them be things that you would have laying around the house, or are simple or cheep to buy. If you’re not sure what I intended for one of the mats – ask!
  • Various counters that correspond with the math mat (for example if your math mat is a picture of a soup bowl, you need noodles for counting) You want to have close to 100 of each object.

Ways to teach number concepts:

One to One

Have your child pick one number from the stack of numbers he or she knows how to rote count to (which means just counting from memory with no help). I divide my numbers into groups by 10’s. So right now, Landon can pick from the 1-10 stack of numbers. He can rote count without help to about 15. Once he can count to 20 without help then I’ll pull out the 11-20 stack for him to choose from. Pull out a math mat set and have the child practice putting the number of counters they pulled on each math mat.
For example, Landon closed his eyes and picked the number 4. He put the 4 in the middle of the set of mats and counted 4 noodles onto each bowl. When he’s done he touches each noodle as he counts to 4.

Number recognition

From the stack of numbers your child is working on knowing (ones he or she knows plus a few that need some practice to master), have them pick out one number per mat and place that number on a mat. Then have them say the number, and count out the number of counters to match the number.

Number writing

Follow the directions of number recognition, but add a dry or wet erase marker and board. Have them write the number the counted out either on the board or the work mat (if you have them laminated)

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