For those who work with preschoolers (at home or at school), drawing, painting, and clay work present many counting opportunities. While I would not give them math assignments or requirements, I find that preschoolers are very suggestive. Their drawings always include the correct number of eyes, and arms, but fingers and animal legs are often expressed as MANY rather than as FIVE or FOUR.
If I am present while they are drawing, I watch for an opportunity just as they start drawing fingers. While they are adding fingers, I ask them if they like to count the fingers while they draw them. This is presented as a question, not an instruction. If they have learned to count, they immediately stop drawing for a moment and start counting to see how many they have already made in order to figure out how many more are needed. They are likely to physically place their own fingers down on the drawing to see if the number agrees.
In my opinion, artwork offers some of the best opportunities for all kinds of thinking abilities and intelligence building activities if we ask awareness building and thinking questions during the process.
Feel free to forward this to preschool teachers and to your friends who have preschool children at home.
Marvin Bartel, Emeritus Professor of Art, Goshen College
Some web pages for young parents and preschool teachers.