Welcome to the Make Connections website. Make Connections, a collaboration of the YMCA of Silicon Valley and TERC, gives adults a fun and easy way to help young children learn math. We are grateful to the Heising-Simons Foundation for their generous support of this free program.
We will be adding to and improving this website throughout 2018. Please contact us with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are new to Make Connections, watch this two-minute video first: Intro to Make Connections
Make Connections provides 11 thematic curriculum units in English and Spanish. Chose the units that work best for your programs, and use them in any order. Most units fit several early childhood themes. If you don’t see your themes below, contact email@example.com to talk through how to adapt the units.
Each unit contains:
- activities for ages 2 and Up, each with easy, medium, and hard versions plus take-home variations;
- activities for children Under 2, to use in programs and at home;
- tips on engaging young children in the math in the unit.
If you use the YMCA ELR model, each unit will cover four weeks. For childcare, PK, and afterschool programs, each unit will cover two to six weeks, depending on frequency and length of your math time. In summer 2018, we will post sample schedules for different types of programs. For now, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possibilities.
Make Connections units. Click to download.
Math for Interest Centers
Make Connections includes nine months of short activities in English and Spanish to use at interest centers such as art, fine motor, and science. Each month offers more challenge, so use them in order.
Number of the month
Shape of the month
Three / tres
Triangle / triangulo
Four / cuatro
Square / cuadrado
Two / dos
Line / línea
One / uno
Circle / círculo
Five / cinco
Diamond / diamante / rombo
Six / seis
Heart / corazón
Eight / ocho
Rectangle / rectángulo
Ten / diez
Star / estrella
Nine / nueve
Semicircle / semicírculo
Make Connections provides training units to use with staff and caregivers. The units include group discussion, video, and hands-on activities. Handouts are available in Spanish and in English. You will need a fast Internet connection to download the training units. You do not need Internet in the trainings.
To run the trainings, you need:
- A computer with Adobe Reader 9 or above. You can check what version you have and download Adobe Reader here.
- If you are training more than two or three people at once, connect your computer to a projector to show the video.
Trainings are designed to be done in a group: discussion is important.
Make Connections Training units
Staff take pre-survey and learn about caregiver pre-survey.
Use first with staff.
Learn about Make Connections and about how to build children’s math knowledge by talking with them.
Staff: use this right after the pre-survey.
Caregivers: use this first.
Investigate how to help children create and discover math through projects and crafts.
Use 2-6 in any order. Staff should be trained on each unit before leading it for caregivers.
Explore ways to combine math and story time.
Learn how to include math in everyday life with babies—useful for older children too!
Learn how to talk math with babies—useful for older children, too!
Consider how to include math in household activities with children.
Staff fill out an end of year survey and reflect on the year with Make Connections.
Use last with staff.
For information about running trainings, contact email@example.com.
Make Connections includes nine ways to combine math and story time. Use each sheet in English or Spanish with your favorite books. You can use each a few times a year, with different Make Connections curriculum units.
Use books about
Counting, especially food
Counting, more, less
Daily routines and schedules
Sequences (first, second, third)
Sequences (first, second, third)
Imaginative play with cardboard boxes
Geometry and measurement
Vehicles or transportation
Visual patterns (spots, stripes, checks) on animals or clothing
People, animals, or objects in different sizes
Anything with a chorus
Make Connections was developed by early childhood math education experts, with piloting and feedback from YMCA programs around the US. Research shows that Make Connections helps children, caregivers, and YMCA staff gain math skills and positive attitudes. Adults learn fun and effective ways to engage very young children in developmentally appropriate math.
Make Connections is a strength-based program. It weaves math into the kinds of activities, projects, and games that staff and caregivers already know how to do with children. For instance, in one activity, children and adults trace their hands and talk about how the tracings are the same and different. As they compare, they discuss the math of sizes (bigger, smaller), shapes (long, thin, round), and amounts (five). Make Connections training sessions are carefully designed to help adults build comfort and confidence.
Research shows that children do better in school when they start with strong skills in varied areas of math, including finding and making patterns, comparing sizes, and using math vocabulary like up, down, next, and first. Math attitudes are also a critical component of school success. Make Connections builds children’s skills and confidence in these areas through hands-on activities that help them learn the how and why of math.
- Lots of math conversations! Each Make Connections activity includes “math talk” for adults to use with children. Math talk includes:
open-ended questions that help children think and talk mathematically (such as, “How are these alike?” and “Why do you think so?”); and
descriptive math language about size, shape, and position (such as “I see a long, flat box on the bottom of your tall tower).
- Math vocabulary (such as more, less, above, round) for each Make Connections activity.
- Storytime connections, with ideas for combining math and read-alouds.
- A curriculum unit that combines math and the alphabet.
Baby play is full of math opportunities. For instance, as babies stack cups and explore what fits inside, they learn about sizes and shapes; as they clap with you, they become familiar with patterns; as they experiment with how many things they can hold they gain a sense of two—one for each hand. Make Connections helps adults highlight the math in these activities with special math talk for babies.
Art and science are woven into all the curriculum units through projects, activities that involve sorting and classifying (important in science and math), and construction activities, like building towers (engineering). Some of the units, such as Animals and Weather, have a science theme. Each of the monthly sets of interest center activities includes a science activity.
Make Connections uses inexpensive materials most programs already have in stock (such as colored paper, markers, scissors, pompoms, and play dough). Although color printouts do come at a cost, we recommend that you make copies of all the activities for families in color. Color makes math much more friendly and fun.
Each state has its own preschool standards. States cover very similar topics but refer to them in different ways. The math topic and math vocabulary on each activity sheet align with common topics in state preschool standards. You can use these to connect each activity to your state standards. The math in Make Connections aligns with NAEYC Math Position Statement (https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements) and prepares children for Common Core math.
Other questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get back to you within a day.