Kindergarten Readiness - Math

Kindergarten Math Standards And Ways to Help Your Children Meet Them

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

A number of years ago I attended a conference where the keynote speaker gave the audience these instructions:

“Stand up if you attended a daycare or preschool program.”  

A few audience members stood up.

            “Stand up if your children attend, or have attended a daycare or preschool program.”

                                   About half of the audience was standing.

“Stand up if your grandchildren attend, or have attended a daycare or preschool program.”

                                   Almost the entire audience was standing

In the days when young children stayed at home with families before they went to a formal school setting, some of them were taught to count to 10, to identify shapes and colors, to sort matching items and group them together. But other children may not have had that advantage.

Now it’s expected that children entering kindergarten will already know these math concepts. 

Kindergarten Literacy Goals And Ways to Help Your Children Meet Them

Many state kindergarten standards are arranged by skill strands and include terminology that is different from what used to be included in a math curriculum for young children. 

Standard 1: Counting and Cardinality


Math Skills for KindergartenCounting includes children’s ability to:

  • count out loud 
  • count how many objects there are
  • recognize number names and symbols
  • compare numbers and quantities


Children have learned this concept when they understand that when they finish counting objects, the number word they use represents the total amount of objects.

Books to Help Your Child Enjoy Counting

by H. A. Rey

Curious George makes his usual monkey mischief as he helps his town celebrate its 100th birthday. The whole family can be involved in helping him count familiar objects in and outside his home in the story, which then can help readers do the same for your own house and community. Since counting and recognizing numerals are abstract concepts, the more you can connect these to real-life objects, the easier it is for young children to grasp how these concepts connect to their daily lives.

by Scarlett Wing

This amazing book contains 100 words to spark curious young minds – all inspired by the collections found within the walls of the Smithsonian Museum. It includes beautiful photos of objects that are grouped together in logical ways, and that will make sense to children of all ages. You will be able to experience a delightful visit to this marvelous museum from your own home!

Standard 2: Operations and Algebraic Thinking


  • Help Your Child Meet Kindergarten Math StandardsAddition – understanding that when the number of objects are increased in a group, there are more.
  • Subtraction – understanding that when numbers of objects are taken away from a group, there are less.

Algebraic Thinking 

This strand includes children’s ability to:

  • Recognize patterns in the real world  – (such as a pattern on clothing or a toy)
  • Copy simple patterns –  (For example: stringing beads in the same color pattern made by someone else)
  • Extend a simple pattern – (adding beads to continue the same pattern started on a string)
  • Create a simple pattern – (designing a bracelet with a repeating pattern of colored beads)
  • Describe similarities and differences in patterns


This strand includes children’s ability to:

  • Use and understand words that are prepositions and opposites (up, down, over, under, etc.)
  • Recognize, name and describe common shapes

Books to Help Your Child Learn Operations and Patterns

by Bobby George and June George

Stripes, polka dots, plaid, chevron, and more are featured in this first-ever patterns concept book that provides readers with the vocabulary to name what they see in the world around them. Children will have a lot of fun identifying objects that have the same patterns in the book, and then looking for similar patterns in their real-life environments. The whole family may gain a new understanding about patterns!.

by Bobbie Kalman

This engaging book shows extreme differences in sizes, and other geometric relationships of objects. In addition  an activity spread asks children to find opposite characteristics in a group of animals. In addition the book includes an activity spread asking children to find opposite characteristics in a group of animals. What other unusual and interesting opposites in your own environment might this book inspire you to think of introducing to your children?

Standard 3: Measurement and Data


This strand includes children’s ability to:

  • Sort and classify objects by one or more attribute (color, texture, shape, etc.)
  • Point to a simple graph or chart and identify which column has the most number of items on a list (For example: a chart could show if the children like apples or bananas better 
  • Use non-standard units of measurement (hands, bodies, blocks, etc.) to estimate the size of something.
  • Use standard units of measurement (measuring tape, measuring cups, yardstick, etc.) to determine the actual size of something.


Data is information that children collect when engaging in activities such as making graphs, participating in science experiments, and cooking, to name a few. When children have the opportunity to explore analyzing their data, it increases their abilities to make calculations and draw conclusions. These skills are foundational for success in higher mathematical operations.

Educational Games for Measurement, Data, and More

These cubes provide children with the opportunity to find their own ways to assemble these colorful linking blocks. They can: stack them by shape (geometry), by color (sorting and classifying), by number (counting and cardinality), by creating patterns (algebraic thinking), and by height and length (measurement and data), to name a few. A great way to link literacy and math is to interview children about how they thought of their ideas and write them down so they can remember and extend them!

This preschool-kindergarten level game includes small wooden blocks with numbers 1 to 100, a board marked with 100 empty squares the size of the blocks, and a digital card with the numbers 1 to 100. Using these materials children can explore number patterns, relationships and matching at their own level, from simple to complex.. Adults and older children may discover new ways to see math patterns, as well!

Free and Low-Cost Activities to Build Math Skills

Free and low cost ideas for teaching these mathematical concepts:

  • Collect bottle caps of different colors from containers such as milk, water, soda, etc. When you have gathered enough that your children can sort them into piles by color, size, or type of container, ask them to put them together by the category you give them. When they demonstrate they know how to sort them, ask them to give you a category and have you do the task. Many children love to be the teacher.
  • Open a small bag of a candy that has pieces with multiple colors. Write the color names across a sheet of paper or chart board, laying it flat on a table. For children learning to read, you can make a line the color of that color word.
    • Have the children sort the pieces into identical colors and place them in a line under the correct color name. Then ask them which color has the most number of pieces in the line, which one has the least number of pieces, and which ones have the same number of pieces. Children will readily identify which line they would most like to eat!

Alternative idea: you can create a selection of pieces of colored cereal or pasta, or non-food items that you may prefer.

  • Children love to use real tools. You can teach them to read numbers on a tape measure by extending the activity above. They can measure each line of candies and point to the number on the tape that is the length of each line. You can say the number and write the numeral under each line until the children are ready to identify and write numerals themselves.
  • Have the children sort toys by color, size, type, etc. They can then create their own patterns using these toys that they have classified by a particular category. For example, if the categories are vehicles, dinosaurs and superheroes, a pattern they could make would be: 
    • One car, one dinosaur, one superhero; one car, one dinosaur, one superhero; one car, one dinosaur, one superhero
    •  The possibilities are endless, and it is fun for adults to also create a pattern with the toys and have the  children describe the pattern that you made.
  • If your children are going to be using a tablet or computer, have them use their name and some numbers, such as a simple 1,2,3 for the password. For example: Michael 123. They will be learning to spell their name correctly, as well as gaining counting skills. And the number portion can be made more complex as children become more proficient with recognizing them*.

To build children’s memories about math activities they have done, take pictures of their projects on your cell phone. Showing them a photo of the chart with items that they compared, and of the patterns they created with their familiar toys, promotes their development of critical thinking and mathematical problem solving skills.

*A special thanks to my brother Rich for contributing this idea for promoting young children’s literacy and math skills!

Karen is an Early Childhood Specialist with more than 40 years of experience in teaching, consulting, and curriculum development for young children.

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