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# 4 Early Math Concepts Using Puzzles

These puzzle-based activities for learning early math concepts were shared with us by guest editor Carrie Anne Badov from EverythingMom.

I’ve shared my love of puzzles with my own kids, including four tricks to help them transition into larger puzzle formats. The Melissa & Doug Jumbo Numbers Chunky Puzzle is a great starter puzzle for kids but you can also use it to help your child with these 4 early math concepts:

### 1. Number Recognition

The obvious use for a number puzzle is number recognition. With the numbers removed from the board and mixed up, ask your child to locate a specific number to place back on the board.

### 2. Counting and Number Order

Related to number recognition go through the puzzle removing or adding the numbers in order, saying each number name out loud. When my kids were learning number order one of their favorite activities was to do a rocket countdown. You can adjust the length of the countdown depending on the numbers your child knows. That could be from 1 to 5 or it could go all the way up to twenty. Click on the video image below to see this in action.

Place the numbers in order in a line on the ground with a rocket standing at the end of the line. My son had a rocket in his collection we could use but A Crafty Morning shares a great DIY Toilet Paper Roll Rocket craft you could make together. Have your child countdown, pushing each number away as he says it. When he reaches the end shout “Blast Off” and he shoots the rocket in the air. This activity worked really well for us when the kids were trying to remember number order in reverse, so counting backwards versus forwards.

### 3. Skip Counting

With number recognition and order under your child’s belt, skip counting is another early math concept that you can explore with your number puzzle. Being able to count by twos, threes, fours, and fives is a great skill kids will benefit from when doing math problems. Try counting by twos and have them pull out the numbers in order (2, 4, 6, 8) and place them in a row below the puzzle board. Combining the act of discovering the numbers in the puzzle board with reading the numbers in order across the bottom will help to reinforce this counting pattern. Do the same with the 3s, 4s, and 5s.

### 4. Simple Addition and Subtraction

The number puzzle can also be used to practice simple addition and subtraction skills. Create an equation using two numbers from the puzzle and ask your child to pull out the solution. Simply create the basic signs of operation (+, -, =) on a sheet of paper and place between the numbers.

You can further challenge your child by changing the missing number and leaving the sum or removing all numbers but the sum. The Melissa & Doug Jumbo Numbers Chunky Puzzle is great for this as each number has a shape beside it. For the equation 2+3 they can count the shapes in total for both of these numbers on the puzzle board to determine the answer and locate that puzzle piece. You can even do a little role reversal with your child as the teacher and you as the student. Have them think of an equation, putting only 2 of the 3 numbers down and asking you to determine the missing number.

So you see a number puzzle can be a great investment beyond just fitting the pieces in the right spot. These are just four early math concepts but I’m sure you can find other creative ways to incorporate these numbers into learning fun.

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Carrie Anne, Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief of EverythingMom.com, loves encouraging families to explore creativity, family fun, the joy of traveling together and reading. As a blog ambassador she is excited about share interesting ways to include Melissa & Doug toys in every day family life. Follow Carrie Anne on her Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Google+.