Math Crafts for Preschool: Mathematical Works of Art
One math concept that many preschoolers struggle with is the ability to sort or compartmentalize. You can use this preschool art math project to help them learn this important skill. Take an old ice cube tray or egg carton and put a different colored dot into each section. Then let kids use paint, markers, or other art supplies to color in the rest of each section in the color of the dot. (You can repeat colors, if there aren't enough colors to fill all of the compartments.) Once each compartment has its own color, this craft becomes a color sorting station, with which kids can practice sorting small objects of different colors. Try giving them a pile of old buttons, beads, or sequins to sort using their sorting station. Then finish off with one of these color lesson plans for preschoolers.
Play With Shapes
Preschoolers love to learn about shapes, which is a mathematical concept that you can truly make tangible for them with this preschool art math project. Cut out various shapes from different colors of craft foam, and mix all of the shapes together. The shapes might include circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, ovals, diamonds, and even octagons. (You can use stencils to trace and cut out the more complicated shapes.) Give preschoolers the pile of shapes and encourage them to glue the shapes together in order to make a picture. When they finish, ask them to describe their picture using shape words. For example, a preschool student might say, "This is a clown. The clown's hat is a red triangle, his face is a purple circle, and his shoes are made of green ovals." This will give students practice with naming shapes and using them in a tangible way.
Another math concept that should be taught at the preschool level is that of recognizing and working with patterns. In truth, all math is about patterns, and kids who are able to spot them will have a much higher chance of mathematical success later in life. To help them master this skill, give preschoolers small colored objects with large holes in the middle, such as dyed noodles, beads, or colored O-shaped cereal. Preschoolers can then make pattern necklaces by stringing a shoelace through the colored objects in a simple pattern. As students master simple patterns (e.g., blue-green-blue-green), encourage them to try more complex patterns using more than two colors.
Of course, the most obvious math concept that preschoolers must learn is identifying and working with numbers. You can review this concept by taping large pieces of tagboard to the wall and writing a number at the top of each one, in ascending order. Then hand out old magazines to students and challenge them to find groups of items that match with the numbers on the papers, especially the larger numbers, and to glue the picture of the items onto the appropriate paper. Encourage students to be creative. For example, they might glue a picture of a hand to the "5" paper because it has five fingers, glue a picture of a dog to the "4" paper because it has four legs, or glue a picture of a ring to the "9" paper because it has one large diamond surrounded by eight others. When students finish, go through each paper and count the groups of items that they found.
See this article on preschool counting crafts for more preschool art math ideas.