Capturing Teachable Moments – Part 2 – Math and Science

One of my favorite memories of my daughters is of one of them standing on a chair by the sink with a dish towel and the other stretching over the edge of the sink on a stool rinsing and drying dishes.  While we did dishes we played rhyming and opposites games.  Capturing teachable moments and turning them into relationship building time is very simple once you start recognizing those moments.

I would come up with a word such as cat and ask them to tell me a word that rhymed with cat.  Or I would say the word tall and ask them to give me an opposite.  As they learned to differentiate, we would make up poems or stories and I would leave out words that they had to fill in with an opposite or rhyme.  This was sort of like Mad Libs without paper.

As they grew taller, the games at the sink included words to spell, the months of the year and the days of the week.  There are lots of fun songs on YouTube to sing to learn the months of the year.  We also started skip counting, learning math facts, states and capitals, storytelling and memorizing scriptures.

Young child wearing a green rain jacket, playing in a puddle

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Capturing Teachable Moments –  Math & Science

Here is the second installment of ideas to help you Capture Teachable Moments with your children.  If you missed Part 1, check it out here:  Capturing Teachable Moments – Part 1.  It includes ideas for increasing Language Arts and reading skills, music, and game ideas to enhance learning.

Early Math Skills

  • Use math words when you are playing games.  “If I have two Uno cards and I have to draw 4 more, how many cards do I have in all.”  “If I give you four carrots and you eat one, how many carrots do you have left?”
  • Create verbal math stories when you and your children are playing with toys.  Encourage counting, adding, subtracting, groups and patterns.  “How many blue cars do you have?  How many red cars?  Do you have more or less red cars?”
  • Counting and skip counting.  You can count steps from one place to another.  You can skip count when you are jumping rope “2, 4, 6, 8,” etc.  Memorizing skip counting (counting by a specific number such as 3.  For example 3, 6, 9, 12, etc.) gives your child a head start on multiplication and division without even realizing it.
  • Measure things around the house.  Compare heights and lengths when you are building with blocks, or Legos.  Measure things with your hands, with a ruler, with a little car.  Talk about the difference between two things.  “Which one is bigger or longer?  Which one is shorter or smaller? Which car is faster?  Which stack of Legos is taller?” etc.


  • Play store.  For many years, all the cans and food in our pantry had prices on them because my daughters loved to play store.  They had play money, a grocery cart or basket, and we had a play cash register.  They loved to come shop from my pantry.  At first, I was the storekeeper and would add up all their purchases, but as they got older, they started taking turns being the clerk and adding up the prices and counting out the change.
  • Menu planning.  As your children get older, they can help with planning a menu and going shopping.  Teach them the foods in the different food groups when you are planning a menu together.  “What kind of vegetable are we going to have with our potatoes?”
  • Use grocery ads to help them put together a budget for the meal and then actually go shopping.  Coupons are a great way to add subtraction into your math lessons as well.
  • Set the table.  Fork on the left, spoon and knife on the right of the plate.  (Fork and left have 4 letters, spoon, knife and right have 5 letters.)


  • Calendars.  Encourage your child to help you use a calendar to count days until an event, practice days of the week, months of the year, and recording family events and special days.
  • Sorting.  This is a concept that is easily adaptable to many playtime activities.  Encourage sorting by color, size, smallest to largest, shape, etc.  This helps children with patterns, identifying the size, color, and shape.  They may come up with their own categories to sort things into.
  • Encourage making predictions.  “Do you think there are more red cars or blue cars?  Why?”  Count and compare your answer to the prediction.
  • String beads or buttons on a pipe cleaner, shoelace or string.  Talk about patterns in colors, shapes, and sizes.  This also encourages fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.


Science

There are so many ways to add scientific conversations and observations into daily activities.  Here are a few ideas to get your creativity started.

  • Leaf Rubbings.  Pick up leaves and place them under a piece of paper.  Use a crayon to color over the leaf on the paper.  You will end up with the veins, stem, and outline of the leaf in great detail.
  • Identify birds and animals.  Look for habitats and ecosystems.  What do the birds or animals eat?  Where do they sleep?
  • Look for nests, tracks, scat and identify them.  Talk about the differences, what the nests are made out of, whose scat it might be.
  • Use a magnifying glass and look at things up close.  Insects, bark, grass, flower petals, etc.
  • Look for shapes in nature.  Triangle shaped fern leaves, round flower petals, oval wasp nests, etc.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt with your child and collect things to make a craft.  Collect things that are different colors, or textures.
  • Measure the rain with a rain gauge.  Measure the snow depth.
  • Keep track of the weather and note it on a calendar.  Help your child identify the seasons and what is different and what is the same about each season.


  • Make snow ice cream.  Blow bubbles when it’s freezing outside.  Stomp in puddles.  Roll down a hill.  Talk about the reason why things happen in nature.
  • Check out books about the weather, animals, nature videos, etc.
  • Practice drawing animals.  Draw with your child.  Get some great drawing books such as these Draw Write Now Books!  (These are our ultimate favorite!) 
  • Plant seeds and watch them sprout.  Peas and radishes are great to plant and watch them grow because they sprout and grow quickly.


Puzzles and Toys to Encourage Learning

Another great way to incorporate lots of teachable moments with your child is to play games and do puzzles together.

 




  • Tracing shapes (fine motor skills, holding a pencil, creating a larger picture from smaller shapes)
  • Playdough (hand-eye coordination, creating, imagination, story-telling)
  • Dress up clothes (imaginative play, story-telling, comparing/contrasting, dressing skills)  Be sure to include scientific dress clothes such as lab coat, goggles, astronaut suit, and other clothes that encourage exploring and role-playing.


Child in green rain jacket playing in a puddle.

You are probably already doing many of these things with your child and that is wonderful!  Your child is on the road to success because you are looking for ways to encourage their learning.  I’m proud of you!  Write down a few new ideas and add to them each week.

Enjoy the journey of teaching your child new things and setting them up for success!  Enjoy capturing the teachable moments with your kids!

I would love to hear your ideas for preparing your child for school by making learning fun and easy at home!  Drop a comment below.  If you know a mom who would like these ideas, please share this with her.  Thanks for Pinning it for later and sharing it on Facebook!

Here are a few other posts you might like!

Capturing Teachable Moments – Part 1 (Language Arts, Reading, and Music)

Simple Tips for Sitting with a Young Child in Church

5 Things You Should do with Your Child Everyday!

Simple Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Curiosity Through Nature

 

55 Replies to “Capturing Teachable Moments – Part 2 – Math and Science”

  1. My six year old loves making calendars and charts for everyone else. I love how she plays with numbers like that! Some of those spot the differences books would be popular here I think. Great Christmas ideas!

    • My girls always loved the learning gifts the most because they were things we used together as a family to play and share. I love that your daughter loves charts and calendars. Sounds like she’s on the way to being an organized little girl! 🙂

  2. SO many amazing ideas!!! My little one is still young but I want to make sure that I’m helping her learn and develop as much as I can! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Great ideas! Sometimes as a new mom, I wonder what the heck my son is learning from me in the day to day but the crazy thing is that there are teachable moments hidden in everything we do!

  4. I love the idea of incorporating math lessons into the natural world because, after all, the whole point of math is to describe/explain/manipulate the real world. Such an important thing to remember when teaching kids.

  5. Yes! Those fun little teaching moments are so important and lay the foundation for future learning! Play is crucial for kids, and I appreciate how you integrated play throughout each section. Great post!

  6. These are great ideas! I used to count while I spun my kiddo in a chair, and when it was about time to leave the park I would tell him “you can have 20 more swings on the swing” and we would count to 20 as we swung.

  7. I love your idea for playing store with your pantry! What a fun game and a great way to teach kids about money. My kids help me plan our weekly menu, but I hadn’t thought to have them involved in the budgeting process. Lots of great ideas here that will be fun to share with my kids!

  8. Oh I love this! What a helpful post. I homeschool and am always looking for fun learning activities for my kids. Worksheets can get so boring. Thanks for this!

  9. I did so many of these things with my kids. I homeschooled them and also had a master’s degree in math. I knew the importance of getting their brains to think mathematically and scientifically from the start. There are so many teachable, learnable moments.

    • Yes, so many of the math words are easy to teach our children when they are young and it helps them be prepared for the more complex problems just because they already know the right language.

  10. Teachable moments can be found anywhere! When my children were younger we would do the counting with jump rope, or the jingle, “2, 4, 6, 8, who do you appreciate”

  11. Thanks for the great suggestions! I try to include the kids while in the kitchen and we love to do word search puzzles another word brain games.

  12. I love all of these. Sometimes when you are exhausted, it’s hard to think about easy things we can do to continue helping our children grow. Thank you for this list to help on those days!

  13. This is fantastic. I do alot of these with my kids, but it’s because my mom did most of these with us. These all seem Montessori based.

  14. I love how you added using math words to your list. I think this is SO important and easy to do if you try. Just talk about math with your kids and it is amazing what they will learn. Thanks for the list!

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