As children begin to work on their math skills many parents are eager to just teach them to count. Counting is a skill we all need but it is not necessarily the best place to start with our math skills.
The earliest math skills will begin with the concept of alike and different. Show your child two identical cups. Ask her how they are alike (size, shape, color, etc.)
Now show your child a cup and a mug. Discuss how they are alike and how they are different. For example, they may be the same color and size, they both hold liquids but the shape is different. During your daily activities there are many times to see the likeness and difference of items.
Set two oranges and one apple on a table. Ask your child if the items are alike. Which one is different? Why is it different? What makes it different from the other two items? Why doesn't this item belong with the other two items?
Go through your house and take pictures of 5-7 items, like the toy box, the kitchen table, the refrigerator, the sofa, the bed and a chair. Now set up the game. Set the toy box picture to the side, go to the toy box though and lay the picture of the kitchen table on the toy box, now go to the kitchen table and lay the picture of the refrigerator on the kitchen table, etc. To start the game, explain to the child that he will need to look for the exact same item in person as is in the picture. Give her the picture of the toy box, when she finds the toy box she will find the picture of the kitchen table and keep going this way until he gets to the last item (a chair) where she finds a book that you can sit down together and read.
These type of scavenger hunts are perfect for the 2-4 year old set. It teaches them to look closely at items and gives them independence to complete the task. The end result is that they are awarded with private time to read a book with you and they are learning math skills.