Start Building STEM Skills Early
Construction paper and teddy bears are good for counting and sorting! How? Let me explain. My two-and-a-half-year-old son started being interested in learning his colors. We would start by identifying colors in his natural environment and the colors on his clothes. One day, he began playing with the teddy bear objects and asking their colors. This simple observation led to helping him visually discriminate between colors and learn the color names. I used the same colors of construction paper to match the teddy bears that he played with. I then laid down each piece of paper side by side on a table and let him decide where to place each teddy bear by looking at their colors.
As children are comparing by color, it is important to resist the urge as parents to do it for them or quickly correct. Encourage and celebrate them when they can match correctly, let them figure out when it is not correct, what is different? Your role is to facilitate. Ask questions such as “What color looks the same as the object?” This can help them visually process and self-correct if they get it wrong. Another role is to build their language. Math literacy skills are equally important is reading ability. They can learn key vocabulary words like “compare,” “same,” or “different.”
Even if you do not have teddy bear objects, any multi-colored item can be used in this simple activity. You can try using colored cereal, large beads, toy cars, blocks, or any other item that you have at home. Most of the time finding objects that you already have and using them to teach important skills is most convenient. Giving children experience with Count, Group, and Compare provides an important foundation for building lifelong STEM skills.