Meet our blogger of the month

Each month, we feature a different guest blogger with valuable insights and information to share about young children and math.

Check back weekly throughout the year so you don’t miss a single guest blog—and join in the conversation by asking questions or leaving comments at the end of each post. We’re excited about this new chapter in the Math at Home project—and we hope you are too!

About our guest blogger Thanh Ngoc Shanahan

Thanh Ngoc Shanahan, M.A., spent 13 years teaching young children in preschool, kindergarten and elementary school settings. She began her career in early learning at the Concordia Early Childhood Education Center, where she worked as a preschool teacher, developed and implemented early learning curricula and helped transition the growing program from four classrooms to 12 classrooms in a state-of-the-art early education facility. At the Chicago International Charter School, she taught a rigorous, data-driven curriculum to kindergarteners while incorporating technology into the classroom experience and mentoring student teachers. After serving as a second-grade teacher at the Daystar School in Chicago, Shanahan launched a family child care program in 2013. She earned her B.A. in early childhood education with a specialization in music from Concordia University in 2000 and her M.A. in early childhood education with a special education emphasis from Concordia in 2006. Shanahan has appeared on Town Square, an online network that connects family child care professionals in Illinois to professional development resources curated by the Erikson Institute. The creator of a Town Square series on the benefits of excursions for young children, she was also a featured presenter on a Town Square module on developmentally appropriate technology use. Conversant in Chinese and Vietnamese, Shanahan is passionate about teaching because she loves to help young children engage in exploration and discovery.

Posts by Thanh Ngoc Shanahan

Sequence in Our Lives

posted by Thanh Shanahan I am a creature of habit, I function better when things are in order. Some people might say I’m anal, but it is how I work. I was that way as a teacher and I am this way as a mom. And hopefully, I’m raising kids who also do well with […]


posted by Thanh Shanahan Life at home with my two little ones can be hectic at times. They are 19 months apart, and one of two things can happen as we go through our day. First is (unfortunately) fighting – toddlers and preschoolers are quite selfish and there is quite the learning curve for sharing […]

Speaking the Language of Math

posted by Thanh Shanahan Talking to children is very important, it develops their vocabulary and broadens their knowledge. So my children and I spend all of our days talking! From the time when they were infants, I narrated our day to them, describing our events in detail. I haven’t stopped talking to them. And, I […]

Math Portfolios

posted by Stephanie Forsman At the start of every school year, I always have it in my mind that this is going to be the year that I create the ultimate math portfolio. A fluid place where the children’s entire math worked is housed; a place where all of their previous work is easily accessible […]

Math Manipulatives

posted by Stephanie Forsman All teachers are inherently hoarders of one kind or another. In the beginning of my teaching career, I would collect everything from eggshell cartons to the Styrofoam trays that are included in meat packaging to spending many of my weekends going garage sale-ing and buying books, games, cooking utensils, stickers… You […]

Avoiding the Summer Slide

posted by Stephanie Forsman From the moment school lets out for summer vacation, anxiety about how to avoid the summer slide sets in. Summer slide refers to the loss of skills many children experience during summer vacation. As a parent, the idea of “practicing” skills over the summer was dreadful and daunting. Forcing my children to […]

Math in Block Play, Pt. 4

posted by David Banzer When preschool children build in the block area, they typically build with a purpose. They may set out to build something specifically. This may change in the process but there is typically a clear process that occurs. Often, these constructions are representational. They are building something that they have experienced. An […]

Math in Block Play, Pt. 3

posted by David Banzer In this past 2 posts, I’ve discussed math in block play and we’ve explored the building process of a younger child. In this post, we’ll examine spatial awareness and patterns in block play and examine more block photos of preschool children’s constructions. What do we see in the following photo that […]

Math in Block Play, Pt. 2

posted by David Banzer I struggled as a teacher to use three-dimensional shape names. I still struggle with this and may need to look up three-dimensional names. What’s a cuboid and a rectangular prism? Most adults would know cube, sphere, and cylinder, but maybe not much more than that. In block play, some teachers, including […]

Math in Block Play, Pt. 1

posted by David Banzer As a preschool teacher, the block area was my favorite area in my classroom and I spent a good portion of my time working with preschoolers as they built with blocks. Unit blocks specifically have enormous value in their use in the preschool classroom. Once children are familiar with the qualities […]

Patterns and Sound

posted by Debbie Lee So far this month I have written about patterns of objects made both by attribute and positioning as well as patterns of movements. There is still another type of pattern. This type uses sound. The sound can be made by the body – vocalizations, clapping, stomping, etc. – or by instruments. […]

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

posted by Debbie Lee So far I have written about patterns that involved objects you can pick up and manipulate. Those are usually what we think of first when we think of patterns. Patterns, however, are so much more than that! The old children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is a pattern. You and […]