Is there a better way to teach preschoolers than using something that they love? And what they love is animals, animals, animals! I have never met a preschooler yet that did not love learning about animals. We use animals to teach everything, especially math!
We are so excited to share with you how to teach several math skills including: counting, one to one correspondence, measuring and sorting using animal activities.
Note: These activities are written to do at home with your preschoolers. But they will all work in a full size preschool class of 8-10 students as well!
Animal Math Music
1. Hippo, Hippo
This is a bean bag counting game. Sit across from your preschooler or have them work with a partner. Hold the bean bag in your lap. Repeat the rhyme:
Hippo Hippo in the lake, how many splashes will you make?
Toss the bean bag back and forth while counting as high as your preschooler can, whoever tosses the bean bag says the next number. When they get stuck on a number help them with the next one and start over. Each time, try to count a little higher.
For a challenge: stand up and toss the bean bag. Try moving back further and further each time you say the rhyme. If someone drops the bean bag, start over.
2. 5 Little Monkeys
Put five monkey finger puppets on one hand and the alligator on the other hand.
Five little monkeys swinging in a tree (hold up 5 monkeys and hide the alligator behind your back)
Teasing Mr. Alligator
Can’t catch me, can’t catch me
Along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be (slowly bring the alligator out in front)
And SNAPS that monkey right out of that tree (grab one monkey off a finger with your alligator hand)
Repeat until all the monkeys are gone.
Set up 5 toy penguins on a flat surface. Use the chant below to practice counting and basic subtraction skills. After each verse ask your child to take one penguin away until there are no more. Bring all 5 penguins back at the end!
Five little penguins sliding on the icy floor,
One slid too fast and then there were 4
Four little penguins swimming in the sea,
One got cold and then there were three
Three little penguins waddling to the zoo,
One got lost and then there were two
Two little penguins laying in the sun,
One got hot and then there was one
One little penguin decided he was done
He went in for dinner and then there were none!
The next morning, five little penguins came out to play
5. Animal Sorting with animal cards
Lay out all the animal cards face up.
Call out an animal category. Ask your child to pick out all the animals that fit in that category and put them in a pile.
- Animals that fly
- Animals with scales
- Animals that live in the water
- Animals with fur
- Animals with feathers
- Big animals
- Small animals
Set out the Animal Footprints coloring sheets on the ground and the animal cards nearby. As you point to each foot, ask your child which animal it belongs to. Have your child take off their shoe and compare their own foot with each animal foot. For each animal, ask questions like, is your foot bigger or smaller than the animal foot? How many of your feet can you fit inside the animal foot? Which animal has the biggest foot? Which animal has the smallest foot?
Give your child crayons and let them color the feet. Encourage them to color them the same color as the animal it matches.
Use the scissors to let your child cut out the feet or cut them out for them. Lay them out on the floor. Hide the animals cards and invite your child to find them. Then let them match the feet to the correct animal card.
7. Animal Colors and Shapes
Set the colored shape sheet on a hard surface. Place an animal inside of each shape. Ask your child what animal is inside each shape or color. If they are unfamiliar with the shapes start out by including the shape and color together. For example: “Which animal is inside the blue triangle?” If your child is new to shapes, start with colors only and progress to shapes and colors. If your child is confident with their shapes, quiz them only on shapes without giving them the color clues.
Place the Alligator Snap cards and number cards 1-15 in the bag (if your child is still working on numbers 1-10, omit 11-15).
Shake up the bag and have your child put their hand in and pull out a card. If they can tell you the number on the card they get to keep it. If not, tell them the number and have them put it back in the bag. If they get an Alligator Snap card they have to put all their cards back in the bag. Once they get five cards they win the game!
We hope you enjoy these animal math activities. Don’t get too crazy acting like an animal!
—Mrs. Melanie and Mrs. KT!