Integrating Literacy and Math in Preschool

As preschool teachers, we are very deliberate about what we teach and how we do it. We make choices that are best for our students, implementing best practices. While methods sometimes conflict, there is one thing all preschool teachers can agree on when it comes to literacy and math…integration is a really good thing! Today I’m offering tips on how to integrate literacy and math in the preschool classroom, as well as a fun and simple activity that integrated the two.

Tips for integrating literacy and math in preschool

Let’s first answer the question of why.

Why Integrate Literacy and Math?

The simple answer is that with careful and thoughtful integration, our students are exposed to more literacy and math throughout the day. They see more letters and numbers. They engage in more reading and math related talk. And best of all, it is done in a completely meaningful and authentic way, which means that our students will learn more than if we segregate the content.

Simple Tips for Integrating Literacy INTO Math

  1. Use songs and chants, written out on chart paper) in math.
  2. Use predictable charts in math.
  3. Write out math stories to solve. Rebus stories are popular and effective.
  4. Use math vocabulary cards and play vocabulary games with math concepts, such as “I Spy” or “Swat.”
  5. Use children’s books to teach math, and do picture walks, story retelling and sequencing.
  6. Use literacy based manipulatives, such as letter tiles or letter beads, as math counters.

Simple Tips for Integrating Math INTO Literacy

  1. Use popular children’s books to teach themes and math at the same time. Allow time during read alouds for students to work math problems that frequently occur in children’s literature, like sorting, counting, and sequencing.
  2. Integrate math concepts into the writing center by offering number stamps, stencils, stickers and etc.
  3. Label everything, including math manipulatives and label individual cards and manipulatives during activities.
  4. Offer tracing shapes instead of letters for writing practice. Similarly, offer shapes and numbers during any prewriting practice.
  5. Include math vocabulary and concepts in word walls and word banks.
  6. Use math counters to teach pre-reading skills, like counting words or counting sounds.

One Super Simple Integrated Activity

Like you, as a preschool teacher, I’m always looking for the most simple way to integrate literacy and math because I want to provide my students with a strong foundation in both that is developed through meaningful and rich activities.

Recently, while doing some ten frame math practice, I offered my students to use letter beads for their counting manipulatives, rather than the usual math counters we frequently use.

Simple tips for integrating literacy and math in preschool

The task was one that the students were familiar. We were practicing composing ten. I would draw a flashcard between zero and ten and the children would count that number, using only one color of bead, onto their ten frame. Then we filled in the rest of the ten frame with a second color and counted how many more were needed to compose ten.

When the children selected their beads, some chose the letters in their names, while other chose randomly. All the children practiced naming the letters they knew as they selected them, questioning other students for the letter they did not know. My more advanced students even tried spelling out simple cvc words, like rat, cat, mop, cup, and so on.

The children names words that began with certain letters, and they commented on the shapes of the letters, how an “o” looks just like a zero. They practiced placing their letters upside right on the ten frame, occasionally getting it wrong and then wondering what that upside down letter was supposed to be.

There’s no doubt this was a simple activity, which is exactly why I wanted to share it with you. To show you that with just a few simple tweaks we can all be integrating literacy and math in ways that have meaningful and big impact on the education of our preschooelrs.

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Sarah is an educator turned stay at home mother of four. She has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and has taught a wide range of levels, from preschool to college. She blogs at Stay At Home Educator, a website dedicated to providing creative activities and tools for teaching in early childhood. She loves Krav Maga, mountain biking, and cooking. See more over on Stay At Home Educator.
About Sarah

Sarah is an educator turned stay at home mother of four. She has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and has taught a wide range of levels, from preschool to college. She blogs at Stay At Home Educator, a website dedicated to providing creative activities and tools for teaching in early childhood. She loves Krav Maga, mountain biking, and cooking. See more over on Stay At Home Educator.

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