The first grade is every child’s stepping stone into his or her academic career. Although the first grade will not bear any direct importance on the child’s college plans, it does prepare the child for social and mental situations that will matter later on, at any stage in life. Math is a subject that is especially important for every first grader’s inception into grade school. Here are some fun activities that can help first graders learn math quickly and easily.

First graders should be able to count without any problems, but they may not be able to add or subtract or multiply and divide. The first grade is the best place to start instilling these important skills. To do so painlessly, you can use regular, everyday objects to illustrate the basic concepts of mathematics. For example, use food items as examples for multiplication and its relationship to addition. You can use M&M’s or Cheerios: place one M&M next to another one, and ask your students to tell you how many there are when you put them together. Explain to them that “putting these items together” necessarily means “adding.” Now, place three M&M’s next to one another and explain that there are three groups of one. If they want to easily know how many M&M’s in total there are, they can multiply the number of groups with how many items are in each group.

Have each student hold any number of items. For example, one student may hold three Cheerios and another may hold five. Have two or three students stand next to each other, and ask the rest of the class how many items there are altogether. You may also do this with groups. For instance, you may group together all the students who are holding two Cheerios. Have each group stand in front of the class and the other students will use either addition or multiplication to describe the number of items. Take one student from the standing group away, and ask the rest of the students to use either division or subtraction to describe the total number of items.

Children usually do not dread mathematics, so while your children are still in first grade, teach them that math can still be fun by using everyday objects to illustrate simple math concepts. By learning these principles of mathematics, they are better prepared for the grade levels ahead.