One of the best ways to help your preschooler develop math skills is to count, count, count together. Count red cars on the road, strawberries in your cereal, people with baseball hats. Here are five (yes, one-two-three-four-five) things around the Bay Area that you and your preschooler will enjoy counting together:
#1 The tree stumps outside Palo Alto's Junior Museum and Zoo
The fun begins even before you enter the hands-on, interactive exhibit room and outdoor mini zoo. Exactly one hundred and four sawed-off tree stumps of varying heights are arranged in a spiral just outside the entrance. No one, from toddlers to teens, can resist jumping from stump to stump.
#2 The sailboats at Shoreline Lake
There's always a sailboat or a paddleboat or a windsurfer—or two or three—out on Shoreline Lake. Your little one will love counting them while looking through the spyglass bolted on the neighboring playground pirate ship (Ahoy, matey!). Or drop a few breadcrumbs on the ground and count the number of geese stampeding towards you.
#3 The sea lions at San Francisco's Pier 39
Sea lions have been hanging out on the docks beside Pier 39 for over 20 years, and tourists come from all over to see them piled up on the floating platforms, layered two and three deep, contentedly snoozing away. Their numbers fluctuate with the season, but you can usually count on several hundred ( as many as 1,700!), so it will take a while to count them all. Try counting just the ones that move -- and watch your little one squeal with delight when they do!
#4 The airplanes flying out of San Jose Airport
Pack a blanket and head to San Jose's Guadalupe park to watch planes zooming in the sky. If you want to see them up close, head to the airport terminal itself. Or stop at the cell-phone waiting area of the airport—parking is free.
#5 The kites at Cesar Chavez Park
For some high flying entertainment, head on over to the rolling hills and dales of Cesar Chavez Park, where the serious kiterunners and stunt fliers practice their tricks. On any given weekend you might see the pros working on their swooping and dive bombing and freestyling, as well as some of the most beautiful, artistic kite creations, soaring gracefully in the strong, steady breeze.
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