Preschool children are just beginning to learn basic math skills, and these can be encouraged through activities that allow for size differentiation, patterning and graphing. Older preschool children who have mastered rote counting can begin learning to count objects, giving rote counting tangible meaning. Many jungle themed activities can promote all of these early math skills in a fun and engaging way.
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Jungle Animal Graph
For this activity, you will need several laminated colour pictures of different jungle animals. Additionally, you will need to make a larger bar graph template on a piece of poster board. Attach a piece of Velcro to the back of each animal picture, and add the other side of the Velcro to the columns of the bar graph. Encourage children to make graphs based on the different characteristics of the jungle animals. For instance, place all of the black animals in one column, all the red animals in the next and so on. Help them to count each column and make "more than," "less than," "most," and "least" statements about their graph.
The Tallest Tree
To prepare for this project, read a book about the different kinds of trees that grow in jungles. Cut out the shapes of the various tree types on white paper, making sure each tree is a different size. Ask the class to paint the trees. Once dry, cover the trees with contact paper for added durability and present them to your class. Ask the children to identify the biggest and smallest, and to line them up by size. Leave the trees out as an activity during your jungle theme and encourage your class to explore.
Count the Frogs
This game is appropriate for older preschool children who can count objects up to 10. Gather 10 lima beans and paint one side of each bean red, and the other blue. To introduce the game, read a book about poison dart frogs, noting their size and colour. Ask the class to pretend the beans are frogs, and the frogs need to be counted by colour. Put the lima beans in a cup, shake and then spill them on the floor. Allow children to take turns shaking, spilling and counting the beans.
Snake Stripe Patterns
To prepare, cut out large snake shapes from heavy duty paper. Show your class pictures of jungle snakes and ask them to identify the different colours on each snake, noting that many snakes have patterns to their bands. Provide each child with a pre-cut snake shape and various colours of construction paper. Depending on the skill level of your class, ask the children to either cut or rip strips of paper and create a colour pattern. Older children can be encouraged to create complex patterns, while younger children should be modelled simple ABA patterns. Have the children glue the stripe patterns onto their snake shapes.
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