Building Early Language & Math Together

Program Contact

Eliana Colunga

The main goal of this project is to provide young children and their families with fun, hands-on activities that foster early language and mathematical development. A secondary goal, particularly during this pandemic, is to provide a virtual space for parents to connect with other parents of similarly-aged children and share their ideas.

The “30 million” word gap that describes the disparate language input among children from different socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds has drawn considerable attention from both researchers and policy makers. Among others, one challenge faced by parents from low-SES backgrounds is the lack of access to activities that promote their children’s use of language and concepts that are currently understood as signs of school readiness. Our goal is to design and implement activities that parents will enjoy doing at home with their children and that will foster the use of specific terms, concepts, and practices. The target language includes nouns (e.g., circle, horn, boot) and adjectives (e.g., big, red, sunny) and words pertinent to mathematics, such as relational terms (e.g., equate, more) and number words (e.g., twenty-five). Target concepts and practices include following instructions, sorting, classifying, and making predictions.

Specific goals:

  1. Provide hands-on activity kits to families with children between the ages of two to five from underserved communities in the Boulder and Carbondale areas. 
  2. Establish researcher-practitioner collaboration with educators in these communities. 
  3. Iteratively incorporate the diverse cultural and familial perspectives by incorporating parents’ feedback and suggestions in designing activities.
  4. Evaluate program  effectiveness by measuring vocabulary growth, kindergarten readiness, and parental self-efficacy.

The project focuses on children between the ages of 2 and 3 1/2 in Fall 2021 and those between the ages of 3 1/2 and 5 in Spring 2022.

  • Building Up Preschool

    Additional Info

    We are designing and creating activity kits to be distributed by Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) to their resident families with children 2-5 years of age. The goals of the kits are 1) to provide families with fun, educational, hands-on activities to share and 2) to serve as a bridge to BHP and Boulder Valley School District's Summer Shuffle program, which starts in June 2022.


    material distribution


    2/1/2022 - 4/30/2022

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

    Distribution Location

    Within Colorado

Sponsoring Units

  • College of Arts & Sciences

  • Department of Psychology & Neuroscience

Program Partners

  • Boulder Housing Partners
  • Carbondale Arts

Audiences Served

  • Families
  • Historically Excluded/Marginalized/Non-dominant Group(s)
  • Rural Communities
  • Socioeconomically Disadvantaged
  • Students - Early Learning
  • Students - English Language Learners (ELL)/Emergent Bilingual