Science Programs for Children Ages 4 and 5


  • To introduce children to numbers.
  • To introduce children to the difference between bigger and greater and smaller and lesser.
  • To introduce children to number order.
  • To introduce children to basic arithmetic of addition and subtraction.

Books : (In kit)

  • Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney
  • Measuring by Peter Patilla

Equipment : (In kit)

  • 1 Container of multicolored bears (large, medium, and small)
  • 6 Bags of Dominoes: one bag each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and black
  • Assorted color cubes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple bricks
  • Assorted jumbo number magnets: numbers, and symbols: plus, minus, multiplication, division, equal, and long bar
  • Assorted flat colored squares in wooden frame. (5 of each color)
  • 1 Balance with stand, 2 trays, 5 10g masses and 5 5g masses
  • 2 Twist and shout addition tubes and manual
  • 1 Magnetic abacus with red plastic stylus and 10 metal balls
  • 1 Wooden abacus Counting Frame
  • 2 Giant red plastic “My Big Tape” measures
  • 1 Pack of jumbo playing cards
  • 2 60″ flexible sewing tape measures

Resource Book : (Contact your local library to borrow)

  • VanCleave, Janice. Play and Find Out About Math: Easy activities for young children. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1997.

Bookmarks : (In kit)

  • Paper copies of the bookmark are included in the kit. PDF and JPEG copies are available here.
    • PDF – 4 bookmarks per page. Ready to print in color.
    • JPG – single high quality jpeg image.


  • Objectives
    • To introduce children to numbers.
    • To introduce children to the difference between bigger and greater and smaller and lesser.
    • To introduce children to number order.
    • To introduce children to basic arithmetic of addition and subtraction
  • Introduction
    • Define Number it tells how many things are being talked about.
    • Define Math using numbers to solve problems and puzzles.
    • Explain how the number 5 is greater than the number 3, but the actual size you have written the number (or have with magnets, etc) may be smaller. Stress that bigger and smaller refer to the actual size of an object, not the value of the object.
    • Use a yardstick or number line to show number order 1, 2, 3, etc. This reinforces the idea of greater or lesser for numbers. (This might seem like a silly point now, but it makes a big difference for children later on in teaching math.)
    • Define Addition the putting together of two or more things to make a new number.
    • Define Subtraction the removal or taking away of one number from a larger number (we will not be working with negatives at this point).
  • Program
    • Think of where we use numbers. Do we always see the number? Are numbers always just for counting how many things we see? Think of numbers on clocks, houses, combinations, etc.
    • When do we use addition (or add things)? Shopping, when we have counted different toys, crayons, etc. How do we remember all the numbers? Paper and pencil, calculator, abacus show examples of these.
    • When do we use subtraction? Jobs to do at school then marking off the finished ones, cookies eaten and how many remain…..
    • Use the magnetic numbers with the symbols to show a math equation, one of addition and one of subtraction. (This is just to introduce the idea, but not dwell on it since it is beyond most at this age.)
    • Open a deck of cards and show the numbers in running order and how we can match them, even if the color is different.
    • Show dominoes and how the numbers are represented. Show how you can match them for a spread out domino board where color doesn’t matter, it is the number that is being matched.
    • Show some size differences–pile of four little blocks may be smaller than one large block
      H. Set up the balance scale and show how to use. The weighted bears work well to show that bigger objects sometimes weigh more than several lighter objects. Try several different things for comparison.
    • Measure a child with the tape measure–depending on child, may need to use the longer tape measure although they will probably prefer playing with the giant measure.
    • Let them explore and try everything.
  • General
    • Many will ignore the numbers and math concepts and just play with the objects. They are still getting exposure to the numbers and idea of adding and subtracting.
    • The balance scale is a real hit and may involve some wild dumping of objects on the trays rather than the calculated math intended. That happens.
    • Surprising interest in measuring how tall they are. You might suggest measuring feet or other body parts with the shorter “Big” tapes. It might well lead to comparisons of the length without the actual numbers for it, but it is a starting point for measurement.


Please print this evaluation, complete it and return to MVLS in the SWS red envelope.

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