Even before we had kids, I told my husband he needed to be the math and science parent, and I claimed dibs on language arts. In fairness my husband has a degree in physics and math, so he is a lost more suited for it than I am. Math is just NOT my thing. I wanted to set my kids up on the right track to succeed in math, and since I am a firm believer in the play-through-learning concept, I started searching for and collecting some math toys for my kiddos. I wanted to share what I found and how we use them in our home.
Math Toys For Kids
Why Are Math Toys Good For Kids?
Math toys are good for so many different reasons, the obvious is that help prime your child for the basic concepts of math. Adding, subtracting, grouping, comparing, contrasting and much, much more. This list explains how other toys help in beneficial ways:
Do these bring you back to your childhood or what?! Unfiix cubes are the gold standard of math toys. I added these as a stocking stuffer for my preschooler last year and they are a huge hit. This math “toy” is a great way for kids to work on one-to-one correspondence by touching and counting out each cube. It also is a way to help them visualize what a group of 5, 10, 20 looks like. Snapping the blocks together is great for fine motor skills. We also use these to “measure things.” We will grab random items from around the house and estimate how many cubes tall they are. Then when we measure the next object we discuss if we think its going to big bigger or smaller.
Counting bears are hands down my FAVORITE math toy for young kids. These counting bears are colorful and fun for young kids to play with. My favorite way to incorporate them into play is by setting them up in a giant bowl, and playing “smoothie shop” I ask my daughter to make me a smoothie with: 3 red bears, 4 blue bears, 3 green bears etc. and then she mixes them in a plastic cup and brings it my way.
Magnatiles (or in this case Piccasotiles) are one of the best toys in our home. I can’t recall a day where we aren’t pulling these out to build castles, attach to the refrigerator, or make a huge mess with. These magnetic tiles are also a fantastic math toy as they can be used to create patterns, counting like objects, comparing and contrasting and much much more.
Mega blocks are another toy (disguised as a math toy) that we use around here almost every day. Not only can you make amazing towers, cars, and castles with these building blocks, but you can also use them in many of the same ways as the magna-tiles above. Counting out like colors and counting how many pegs are on each block.
Dice are the cream of the crop when we are talking about math toys for kids! Dice are one of the best ways for kids to count and begin to learn basic addition and even subtraction. For instance roll two dice together, and have your child count how many it adds up to. In the beginning they will probably count each dice individually, and over time they will be able to immediatly recognize how many are on each dice. This dice set come with many different colored dice which I love because you can also count by color.
Raise your hand if you LOVED playing with Tangrams when you were younger (ME! ME!) These little shapes are therapeutic to play with in my opinion, and not only get your child talking about and understanding different shapes and sizes, but also learning about the basics of geometry. There are all types of puzzles you can put together with tangrams. You can count how many of each shape you see, group by color, and so much more.
Pentominoes are brand new to our home, but we are already loving them so much. Similar to tangrams, but more like mini Tetris pieces, your child can manipulate and put them together however them chose. This is great for problem solving, learning geometric properties, and evaluating spacial properties.
When someone talks about math toys, I bet an abacus is the first thing that comes to mind. Abacus’s are a classic math toy loved by all and also extremely effective for learning about math! Adding numbers, subtracting numbers, visualizing numbers and much more. This educational math toy is perfect for kids aged 3-5 this “wooden calculator” will get your children loving numbers in no time.
A cash register is a GREAT way start discussing concepts of money, but also to work and build math skills. We play a lot of pretend grocery store, where I ask my child to “pay” for the items to differentiate between the dollar bills and coins.
A calculator may not seem like a toy, but this is actually a great way for your child to play around with numbers. My daughter once found an old calculator that accidentally made it’s way into the toy bin. We allowed her to play with it, and she started asking questions like what does the + button do? What happens if I add 7+4 and so much more. She had fun punching random numbers in, but also started to grasp some math concepts all on her own. You can find calculators at your local dollar store, or I love this inexpensive calculator.