In first grade math, children are introduced to basic ideas they’ll need later when they dive into more difficult math. They’ll start learning how numbers work, shapes and patterns, and the language of math (such as “less than,” “more than,” “addition,” and “subtraction”).

Here are four easy games you can do with your first grader at home.

### Say and sing counting

When you’re waiting for the bus or standing in line at the store, have your child practice counting. See how quickly he can count to 50. By the end of the school year, first graders should be able to count up to 100. So help your child reach this goal. A fun way is to teach your child to count 100, backwards! (The song 99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall is a fun way to practice counting backwards.)

### Figure out the pattern

This simple game helps your child understand how patterns work. All you need is a pen and paper. Start by drawing a simple pattern – maybe something that uses shapes, such as:

•• ♦♦ •• ♦♦ ••

Next, it’s your child’s turn to start a pattern. Then you continue your child’s pattern.
When it’s your turn next, make it a little more difficult by making a three-part pattern, like:

♦•♦ •♦• ♦•♦ •♦•

You can also use coins to play this game: Get a pile of coins and lay out a pattern, such as two nickels, one penny, and one dime. Repeat the pattern. Then lay down two nickels and ask your child to complete the pattern. Your child will have to figure out the pattern by picking the correct coin that comes next (a penny). This is also a great way to practice the names of coins!

### Go on a shape hunt

Look for shapes on your next walk together. As you walk around, see who can point out the most shapes along the way, such as the sidewalk squares, octagon stop sign, and round traffic light. To make it a competition, write down how many shapes you both have found at the end of the walk. You can also ask your child what shapes you found most and what shapes you found least.

### Money

All you need for this counting game is a pile of spare change and a pair of dice. When your child rolls the dice, she wins the same number of pennies equal to the dots showing on the dice. (Have her count the dice for practice). So if she rolls a six, she gets six pennies.

When she has five pennies, she turns it in for one nickel. Two nickels turn into a dime, and so on. Whoever hits one dollar first (another chance to practice counting to 100!) wins.