A few years ago I remember hearing about a father who did math problems before his kiddos went to bed instead of story time. My oldest was in kindergarten at the time and so I decided to give it a try a few nights a week. We started out with a couple minutes of basic counting of toes and addition problems and it has moved on to word problems and math games. Amazingly, I find my children calm down just as easy or maybe even better than with just a story as they answer my “math challenges”. Most of the time they are half a sleep after a few minutes! I have really enjoyed it and I am pretty sure my children do, too. They BEG for their turn, so I take that as a good sign!
Here are a few different ways we have incorporated math into our bedtime routine:
Great for any level and can be adapted as needed for each child. I think it is easier if they can count something and fingers and toes are always available. Start at their level and remember to challenge them a little each time and to try and end on a “happy and successful moment”. If they can only count to 5, continue on to 10. Or if they have counting down, count by twos, fives, tens, odds, evens…you get the picture
Addition and Subtraction
You can not go wrong with practicing a few addition and/or subtraction problems before bed. Again, start where they are and give them a challenge for the last couple. If you have math flash cards, they are always fun to use to switch things up.
We did additions of 1 for quite awhile when my daughter was barely 4. She learned from her brother and loved the success even though it seemed pretty easy. At 6, she really loves math and picks it up quickly, which I like to blame on our math games.
Again, start where they are with a little bit of a challenge. With my son we started out towards the end of Kindergarten with something similar to this:
“Johnny has 5 apples. Sally gave him 2 apples and ate 3. How many are left?”
I remember giving my son what I thought was a difficult math problem, similar to the one above, when we first started doing math at bedtime and he easily answered it with out a groan or a fight.
My kiddos live for fun, so we have learned to incorporate math into their favorite games like, Go Fish. It always makes bedtime a happy moment when we end with a quick round. With this version instead of asking the other player for your particular number you want, ask, “Do you have a 3+1?” or “Do you have a 10-7?”, etc. So far, we stick to all addition at first and then switch to subtraction for the last half.