Counting Sheep Brings New Meaning

By Suzanne Lopez /

Counting sheep has been referenced in our popular culture in cartoons and other media as a mental exercise to lull oneself to sleep or an idiosyncratic term to indicate insomnia. Many times we laugh at the notion and dismiss its significance. However, counting sheep may bring new meaning and may even be important for your child.

According to a recent study of School Readiness and Future Achievement in the November 2007 issue of The Journal of Developmental Psychology, Kindergarten math skills seem to be the best predictor of future academic success. More often than not, literacy has been highly regarded as the best predictor of success and reading skills were second in importance in the study’s findings. Attention skills were the third most important.

bedtime-mathNot to diminish literacy, but rather to incorporate mathematics, I am recommending Bedtime Math. Bedtime Math was developed by Laura Overdeck and is a non-profit foundation with a mission of helping kids love numbers. On their website you can find links for families, educators, libraries and volunteers. They have books which can be purchased and a free app available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In addition, they offer an after-school math club kit for younger children called “Crazy 8s” incorporating hands-on, creative math activities.

Bedtime math was introduced to me through a mother at our local playgroup, and upon investigating I found it to be a fantastic resource for all parents of young children. The math problems have three levels divided into “Wee Ones” for toddlers counting on their fingers, “Little Kids” and “Big Kids.” The benefit to this is the combining of literacy and math. So, not only are your children reading (or you reading to them), but they are learning math in the meantime.

Example story problems:

For “Wee Ones”:  If today is December 13, what is tomorrow?” Or “How many rooms do you have in your house? See how many you can count.

For “Little Kids”: If your coaster zooms down sets of stairs 3 times and goes back up 2 times, how many slopes does it ride in total?  Bonus: If you want the coaster to start indoors, zip outside and back inside a few times, and end outside, will it pass through windows an even or odd number of times?

What could be better than teaching math in playful ways and setting the foundation for our children’s future success? Bedtime math and counting sheep is definitely approved for kids to try at home!

Suzanne Lopez is a Lenawee’s CHILD parent educator in the Britton Deerfield School District along with being the School Success Coach for “At-Risk” students in grades K-4. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and has recently been admitted to Purdue University to obtain her Master of Science degree in Special Education. When she is not working, she is home with her own children (ages 3-13).


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