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Promoting Mathematics In Young Children

Mathematics in the early years should be a fun and exciting time where children can explore, actively learn and critically think.

There is often a lot of stigma attached to maths with parents and early years’ practitioners often having negative experiences with mathematics themselves. Early Maths is most powerful when explored as part of ongoing play, allowing children the chance to apply their growing knowledge in real and engaging situations. At Daisy Chain we plan open ended, exciting activities that will allow children the chance to explore maths concepts alongside other areas of their learning and to see maths as a vital skill rather than an isolated process.

It is important to remember that introducing children to mathematical concepts at a young age can help them later in life, but this is not just about learning to count from 1 to 10. There are many mathematical concepts that need to be recognised including full, empty, shape and sizes etc.

From a young age children can learn and recognise number sounds and words from songs, rhymes and stories such as “12345, Once I Caught a Fish Alive”, “5 Little Speckled Frogs”. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a good book to start extending number ranges and helps children to recognise that numbers can have related objects (and is a favourite of many children at Daisy Chain). By counting each of the fruits the caterpillar eats, the children are constantly reinforcing the number chain e.g. 1-5. Often children can recite numbers 1-10 easily but have very little understanding of each number. At Daisy Chain, we encourage the recognition of numbers by having them in all areas of provision and this can be supported by parents by looking at numbers in the everyday environment which promotes the practical use of numbers.

As children get older they can be encouraged to start learning the permanence of numbers and number bonds, again these can be encouraged by rhymes. Pick a child’s favourite song e.g. 5 Little Monkeys, as the rhyme progresses and the monkeys fall off the bed there are still 5 however there are 4 on the bed and one off, then 3 on the bed and 2 off etc.  This then helps with number bonds where 4 & 1 make 5, as do 3 & 2.

At Daisy Chain, there are several ways we encourage children to use numbers whilst making it fun and engaging, these can include:

  • Encourage children to count pieces of fruit in their bowl during snack.
  • At meals times support children in counting the number of children at each table
  • When putting coat on count how many buttons
  • Use chalks outside to make lines on the floor and talk about which is the longest
  • For the younger children offer them a variety of treasure baskets containing objects of different sizes.

Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is an excellent resource that can be utilised in promoting maths and its concepts. Here are some examples;

  • Rock play – whether it’s large river-washed cobbles, small pebbles or pea sized gravel (if age appropriate). If they appropriate to draw on, chalk on wash or just move from one place to another they give children the opportunity for big, bigger, biggest and developing their understanding of weight and size also. Smaller gravel can be used to weigh in buckets or fill containers discussing how much is needed and is the container, full, half empty, quarter full etc.
  • Sticks – One of the first things children say when they pick up a stick is “Mine is really long” or “Yours is bigger”, this gives adults the opportunity to model correct length language (long not big), and with lots of different sticks children are able to explore who has the longest and shortest, and those in between. Laying sticks on the floor is an opportunity to visually compare different lengths and numbers.
  • Water play – It is easy to add some inspiration to water play, and children experience this on a daily basis. Look for opportunities to discuss and explore more, less, full, fuller, emptier etc. as you play with different sized and shaped containers. Using a variety of clear containers and coloured water gives children a real sense of how much each holds. Adding funnels and clear tubing provides extra excitement and more learning opportunities.

Learning Through Play

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