Swing Math

August 13, 2021

I’ve been interested enough in Early Family Math to join on as a partner. The goal of the project is make quality resources available to families to support playful,  joyful, mathematical play for young kids.

I helped a little with some of the activity ideas (though  the project lead, Chris Wright, did the vast majority of the work putting them together). Part of the fun for me was to get new ideas for ways to incorporate math play with my own two-year-old, Asa. And sure, I’ve got a lot of my own ideas about it. But it’s still useful to see someone else’s thoughts and ideas for activities!

For example, the quintessential counting activity from earlyfamilymath.org is counting on a swing set. This ended up being hugely popular with Asa. He often gets on swings and counts on his own now.

Getting good quality video of us counting together was much trickier. He’s grown so interested in phones that taking photos or videos is instantly distracting. But here was one I managed to get.


There are a lot of fascinating things about his relationship to counting right now! First of all, he generally enjoys counting a lot, which is the big win. If you ask him what number to count to, he almost always answers “8.” He can count with you to 13, but then skips 14. (This happens in this video, but it’s actually very typical for him.) He’s quite good at imitating, and usually counts in the correct order, but not always. At this age, correctness is WAY less important than just having fun and playing around, and connecting with an adult positively around counting, numeracy, and math.

Usually we set a target to  count  to and then  do a “biggie”—a big swing, which he likes a lot. The “counting to build anticipation” game is endlessly fun in our household. In this case, he got distracted and kept counting past eight. I was curious how far he’d go, so went with it.

I’m hoping to create more little videos of quick, fun, mathematical play with Asa and make them available here and on Early Family Math. And if you’ve got young kids in your household, I encourage you to join in too! You can shoot a video of some counting or math game (lots of ideas here!) and share it with the team at Early Family Math to post on their website. Ideally, we’ll develop a library of families playing with mathematics with kids, from very young to older, and help model ideas for how all of us can have a healthy, joyful relationship to mathematics.

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