Linking cubes look like small building blocks, but they're so much more than that. The cubes come in an array of colors and can be used to teach and reinforce a variety of concepts that your child is learning in the classroom. Pick up a set of the linking cubes at a teacher supply store or a toy store and get busy learning with your kindergartner at home.
Linking cubes come in a variety of colors, which makes them perfect for practicing patterns with your kindergartner. Karen Quinn, author of "Testing for Kindergarten," suggests starting with simple patterns and then working your way up to more complex ones. You might start by laying a pattern of pink cube, red cube, pink cube, red cube on the table. Encourage your kindergartner to find the appropriate cubes to continue the pattern. Once she catches on, try blue cube, blue cube, yellow cube, blue cube, blue cube, and see if she can keep the pattern going. Allow your kindergartner to make patterns for you to finish, too.
The variety of colors of linking cubes can help teach sorting, which is an essential kindergarten math skill. Give your kindergartner a pile of linking cubes and ask her to sort them by color so she puts all of the red cubes in one pile, all the orange in another pile and so on. You might also ask your child to pick out cubes featuring her favorite color and set them aside as another way to incorporate sorting into your play. The Educational Experience website also suggests giving your child several colored cups, such as a red, blue and green one, and asking her to sort the cubes by dividing them into the matching cups.
Place a pile of linking cubes in front of your kindergartner and ask her to count how many she has. Once she's counted by 1s, help her count them by 2s, 5s and 10s. Show her how to separate the cubes into piles of two, five or 10 to make it easier. You might also ask her to count how many of each color cube she has once she's done sorting them. Challenge her thinking even further by asking her which color she has the most of and which color she has the least of.
Use the linking cubes to reinforce adding and subtracting concepts with your kindergartner. Start by giving your child two linking cubes, each one a different color. Show her that adding the cubes together creates the number sentence 1 + 1 = 2. Try different adding problems, such as 2 + 3 and 4 + 5 to expand the concept. Do the same for subtraction by giving your child a small pile of cubes in two different colors. Ask her to count them and then take away one color to see how many she has left. Ask your kindergartner to make towers that are the same height as objects in your home. This teaches spatial awareness. See how many cubes it takes to make a tower as tall as the kitchen table or as tall as your child's bed. You might also see how many cubes it takes to make a tower as tall as your child.