Make Connections: You and Me and Math

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:

If you are new to Make Connections, watch this two-minute video first: Intro to Make Connections

Please contact Mary Haughey to let her know of your interest in Make Connections.

Curriculum Units

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 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 to discuss possibilities.

Make Connections units. Click to download.

*coming soon

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

Month 1

             Three / tres

             Triangle / triangulo

Month 2

             Four / cuatro

             Square / cuadrado

Month 3

             Two / dos

             Line / línea

Month 4

             One / uno

             Circle /  círculo

Month 5

             Five / cinco

     Diamond / diamante / rombo

Month 6

             Six / seis

             Heart / corazón

Month 7

             Eight / ocho

             Rectangle / rectángulo

Month 8

             Ten / diez

             Star / estrella

Month 9

             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 pre-survey

15 min

Staff take pre-survey and learn about caregiver pre-survey.

Staff only

Use first with staff.

1. Measurement and Math Talk

30 min

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.   

2. Exploring and Discovering Math

30 min

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.




3. Storybooks and Math

30 min

Explore ways to combine math and story time.



4. Math Moments with Babies

30 min

Learn how to include math in everyday life with babies—useful for older children too!



5. Math Talk with Babies

30 min

Learn how to talk math with babies—useful for older children, too!



6. Math Talk at Home

30 min

Consider how to include math in household activities with children.



Staff Reflection and Post-Survey

30 min

Staff fill out an end of year survey and reflect on the year with Make Connections.

Staff only

Use last with staff.

 For information about running trainings, contact


Storytime Connections

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

Math topic

Count What You Eat /
Contemos lo que comemos

Counting, especially food

Counting, more, less

Daily Schedule /
Horario diario 

Daily routines and schedules

Sequences (first, second, third)

First, Second, Third /
Primero, segundo, tercero 

Getting dressed

Sequences (first, second, third)

Play with Boxes /
Jugar con cajas

Imaginative play with cardboard boxes

Geometry and measurement

Roll It to Me /
Hazlo rodar hacia mí

Vehicles or transportation


Spot the Pattern /
Hallar patrones

Visual patterns (spots, stripes, checks) on animals or clothing


Up and Down /
Arriba y abajo 

Growing plants

Geometry/spatial relationships

What Fits? /
¿Qué cabe?  

People, animals, or objects in different sizes


Word Patterns /
Patrones de palabras

Anything with a chorus


*coming soon


 Why use Make Connections: You and Me and Math?

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.

 Some of my staff are uncomfortable with math. How can I assure them that they can succeed with Make Connections?

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.

 We already teach counting and shape names. Isn’t that enough?

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.

 How does Make Connections combine math and literacy?
  • 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.
 Make Connections includes activities for ages 0-2. What is math for babies?

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.

 How does Make Connections connect to other STEM subjects? How does it connect to arts?

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.

 I only have a tiny budget. How can I afford supplies for Make Connections?

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.

 How does Make Connections connect to our state preschool math standards?

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 ( and prepares children for Common Core math.


Other questions? E-mail, and we will get back to you within a day.