What is Mathematizing?

What do we mean when we say mathematization? Mathematizing is using mathematical thinking and talk during play or routine activities. Mathematization is not only an activity for children, it’s a way of interpreting and expressing using mathematics and can be used in almost any situation.

To mathematize with children, you don’t need strictly math books. The Illinois Early Learning Project offers some examples of how young children can mathematize in everyday situations:

  • They notice when piles of toys or other objects have more or less pieces. For example, a child may notice when their peer has more toy animals than they do.
  • They use their fingers to count while singing songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs.” They may be eager to show their caregivers how many fingers they are still holding up after they finish singing a verse of the song.
  • They categorize toys, natural objects, and foods into groups.
  • They talk about whether something is longer, shorter, bigger, or smaller.
  • They talk about the passing time and what they will do next. For example, they may talk about games they played yesterday and places they hope to go tomorrow.
  • They notice colours and shapes. For example, children may comment about the colors and shapes of tiles on the floor.

These activities helps to immerse young children in mathematical language and concepts. To get started fostering mathematical thinking, set up the class to encourage the four foundational concepts of mathematizing: learning object attributes, making comparisons, observing changes and predicting patterns.

“For toddlers, the environment should not be set up to focus on adult-led outcome-based activity; it should invite children’s casual exploration and deeper, weeks-long investigation, with teachers as learning partners rather than experts.” – Julia Luckenbill

Mathematizing is connecting math with everyday activities. Check out the resources below to learn more and discover ideas to help children mathematize. If you’re not convinced, have a listen to 7-year-old Jim Patrick speak about how math is everywhere.



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