The way math is presented to children makes a tremendous difference in their success as learners, as well as your success as an educator. Children need to take part in activities that encourage them to experiment, to investigate, and to record their observations.
Preschool and kindergarten students always need to have things to move around or manipulate in order to make sense of math concepts. In the education world these are called "manipulatives" and there are a great assortment of these available, such as blocks, counters and pattern blocks. Give children ample time to play with the manipulatives in order to satisfy their curiosity about the materials before attempting to use them to teach a math concept. Introduce new math vocabulary as the children play, as this will help them when they participate in teacher led experiences.
Keep structured lessons short to begin with and do not assume the children understand your expectations. Spend a week teaching proper use of materials and proper cleanup. Teach the children to use mats to identify and define their work area.
The following steps work well when teaching young children. First, demonstrate the math activity two or three times before you give the children materials. You will quickly lose the children's attention if you pass the materials out first. Second, give materials to the children and ask them to try the activity. Check to see all have understood the concept and are experiencing success. Assist children that are having difficulty.
After a few days of the same or similar lessons, record your math experience as the children observe. Keep it simple. For example, after a lesson making repeating patterns print the words, I made a pattern. Say, "I used a red block, a blue block, a red block, a blue block." Draw the pattern and color the blocks. Pass out paper and have the children draw what they did and record words using their knowledge of letters and letter sounds. Recording the activity gives children an opportunity to share and solidify their knowledge.
Visit my kindergarten site for ideas, activities, tips, games and skills lists about teaching preschool and kindergarten maths.