Young children are natural learners who form ideas about math when they experience it in their daily lives. Setting the table for snack, counting the friends in their class, using a timer to share a toy, and measuring sand at the sensory table are all ways that children begin to understand mathematical concepts.
One of the main goals for preschool math is that students begin to understand computation. “What?!” you might be asking. “How can we teach 3 and 4-year-old children addition and subtraction? Isn’t that too much, too soon?”
“How can we teach 3 and 4-year-old children addition and subtraction?”
“Isn’t that too much, too soon?”
No! When it is presented in a natural, playful way through songs and fingerplays, the concept of computation (making sets by adding and subtracting objects) is both fun and appropriate for preschool students. Here are some perfect examples:
10 Favorite Chip Clip Poems:
5 Little Birds
- These colorful birds clip onto a wooden tree. (Plain trees are available at the craft store. We painted this one with acrylic paint.)
- The song is to the tune of “Bingo.” (Listen HERE.)
- Count the birds in each verse, removing the last one.
- Instead of a number, say “Tweet” or “Chirp” for the missing birds. Young students think this is hilarious!
- When all of the birds are gone, invite the students to clip them back on the tree. This is a good way to increase their hand strength.
- If you can’t find these exact bird clips, here is another option.
5 Black Cats
- Use the same tree as the bird poem!
- The cats are “Kikkerland” brand, available on Amazon HERE and also spotted at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- The goals of this poem is to help young students practice counting backwards (5-4-3-2-1) and also to begin to understand subtraction. (“If there were 5 in the tree, and 3 climbed down, how many are left?”)
5 Forest Animals
- This is the third poem that uses the wooden tree!
- These woodland (forest) animal clips are also Kikkerland brand, and can be found on Amazon HERE.
- Like the cats, this poem focuses on counting down from 5.
- Unlike the cats, these creatures start on the ground and then climb up onto the tree.
- Continue to talk with students about making sets of 5! (“If there are 4 on the ground, and 1 up in the tree, how many are there altogether?”)
- Print the rhymes for all 3 of these poems HERE.
5 Speckled Frogs
- Put a fun twist on an old favorite by singing “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” with chip clips! (Click HERE to listen to the song.)
- The “speckled log” is a paint stick, which we painted brown and decorated with spots.
- As the frogs jump off they land in the “pool” which is just a blue circle.
- Encourage the students to talk about the sets of 5: “There are 4 frogs on the log and 1 in the pool.”
5 Little Ladybugs
- These ladybugs come in a 3-pack (1 frog, 1 ladybug, 1 bumblebee) from the Dollar Tree. You can also order them online HERE. We bought 5 sets (total = $5) and made a set of frogs, a set of ladybugs and a set of bumblebees.)
- The leaf is made of 2 pieces of green craft foam glued together. You could also cut out a leaf shape from cardstock or construction paper and glue it to a piece of cardboard. Be creative!
- The verses of this poem are really simple, and are perfect for 2 and 3-year-old students as they practice counting to 5.
- The bumblebees are part of the 3-pack (with a ladybug and a frog).
- Make the hive by printing a piece of beehive clipart (found HERE). Alternatively, you could easily draw a hive on yellow paper and attach it to foam or cardboard.
- This poem helps young children practice counting to 5 as well as subtracting from 5.
5 Little Ducks
- These duck chip clips are readily available in the U.S. at the dollar store – 3 for $1. If you cannot find the clips, rubber ducks, duck stickers on a clothespin, or felt cut-outs would also work.
- Children practice counting backwards from 5 with this cute rhyme.
- Since butterflies don’t really “sit” on anything, attach these clips to colorful craft sticks.
- Label the sticks with numbers 1-5.
- Let the students hold the butterflies as you recite the poem. When the butterfly says, “Goodbye” the children hides it behind their backs.
5 Pretty Flowers
- Print a picture of a fence, garden, and/or vase. (The clipart that I used was part of a large, expensive set. You will be best to do a google search for a picture or get creative and draw your own.)
- Recite the poem and move the flowers from the fence to the vase. Talk about the different combinations that make 5.
- (I have a strong American accent. My co-teacher, Gemma, has a Brittish accent. We realize that this poem only rhymes in American. Sorry about that!)
- These pink piggies (along with the flowers and butterflies) were from the Dollar General. They were sold in packs of 4.
- Create a mud puddle out of craft foam. Turn the puddle over and glue a picture of a tub. Label each side, as desired.
- Recite the poem. At the end when there are no more piggies in the mud, turn the puddle over and clip them to the tub.
6 Silly Monsters
- These monster clips are Kikkerland brand (available in stores or online HERE.)
- Make a playground for the monsters by taping 2 manila file folders together.
- Draw playground equipment, or purchase this set of clip art and print it off.
- Cut holes so that the monsters can clip on.
- Recite the poem, adding more monsters to the playground with each verse. Young students will work on color identification, as well as beginning concepts of addition.
We share teaching tips, ideas, and peeks into our classroom daily on Facebook live. Here are a few videos about using finger plays and poems in the preschool setting: