Authentic Learning Series: 14 Classroom Numeracy Ideas for Early Childhood

This is the second of four articles in a series in which we are sharing some of our favorite ideas for incorporating authentic learning and authentic assessment in both the classroom setting and at home. In our first article, we defined these terms and discussed classroom authentic learning experiences focused specifically on early literacy skills. This time, we’re sharing classroom ideas for numeracy skills.

Just as with the first article, we encourage you to use this list of thought starters to spark your own creativity and generate additional ideas with your team. And please do share your own ideas in the comments!

1. Make a numbers game out of everything. Counting cubbies, ceiling tiles or classmates can be fun.

2. Use the calendar to make mathematical connections to everyday life and build numeracy skills. For example, ask students “How many days until the weekend?” or “How many days ago was last Thursday?”. Discuss keywords that signal the need to apply mathematics skills.

3. Incorporate images of an analog clock into your classroom schedule, if you have one hanging on the wall. For example, next to “Reading Groups” you can have an image of a clock that shows 8am, and next to “Mathematics,” another analog clock image that shows 1pm.

4. Create a classroom or school store to encourage identification of coins and dollars. You can also begin working on skip counting, counting on and counting backwards as well.

5. Have students use their bodies to create shapes and numbers. Discussion and decision-making play a major role in these activities. Plus, students have an opportunity to engage in movement, which makes this a great transition activity or a break between two longer sequences.

6. Incorporate scavenger hunts into math lessons. Students can search for and collect different numbers of selected items and win a prize. Use this time to talk about concepts of more and less.

7. Highlight problem solving in everyday occurrences. Serving snacks, lining up and circle time can all be utilized for developing critical thinking skills.

8. Use hand washing to promote rote counting skills (in addition to cleanliness habits). Make sure students understand they should count to 10 or 20 before they are done.

9. Use birthdays, phone numbers and addresses to increase understanding of the multiple ways we use numbers.

10. Schedule field trips to everyday places like grocery stores, post offices and movie theaters. Call attention to all of the ways in which we refer to numbers in daily activities.

11. Set up the classroom as a restaurant and allow students to order from a menu and pay with play money.

12. Have students be construction workers for the day and use different shapes for building.

13. Invite speakers to the classroom to talk about how they use numbers in their everyday work. Set up stations for application activities that relate to different careers.

14. Make math connections across content areas. Create a timeline connected to a story or use measurement to conduct a science experiment.

Now that we have discussed some examples of authentic learning ideas for the classroom, it’s time to shift gears and take a look at how families might be able to build in authentic learning experiences at home. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, in which we’ll share home-based activity ideas for early literacy.

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