Maths. It’s a vital skill for all sorts of useful everyday tasks, like cooking, shopping and telling the time. Learning these skills starts early, when babies and toddlers begin to interact with objects and understand concepts like shapes, sizes and numbers. So here at Toad Hall we have developed an age-appropriate and fun maths in early years programme with lots of simple activities to encourage learning through play. Here are some maths activities that you can do together with your child at home.
Maths in early years begins in babyhood! Babies are hungry to understand more about the world around them, exploring how objects relate to each other to develop their knowledge of how things work. While you may not think of them as such, concepts like bigger and smaller, longer and shorter and same and different are all basic building blocks for mathematical thinking, and can be nurtured and developed from a very young age. Maths activities you can do with babies include:
- Where’s Teddy? Participating in this activity helps babies to get used to the idea of different numbers of objects. Take three of baby’s favourite toys – teddies, balls or whatever they like to play with. Hide them all under a pillowcase. Then, take just one toy out to show your baby. See how they react. Do they look for the missing toys? Repeat with another toy, until all teddies are now visible again above the pillowcase.
- Drumming. This activity helps babies to understand how their actions affect the world around them. Take any object that will make a satisfying banging noise, and something to hit it with. Let them explore the noises they can make. Show them how to drum slowly and quickly, quietly and loudly. Count along with your beats.
Remember that at the baby stage, the emphasis is on baby-led exploration and play. There’s no need to rush or push an activity that baby isn’t keen on at that time.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers
By the time they are 2 or 3, young children already have a complex understanding of how the physical world works and can grasp the meaning of shape, space and measures – all basic ideas needed to progress to the stage of ‘proper’ maths and working with numbers. So, while your toddler won’t be getting to grips with algebra or calculus for a few years yet, it’s never too early for young children to start developing a basic understanding of mathematical concepts.
- Baking by numbers. This is a fantastic example of maths in early years, and a great chance for children to get ‘hands on’ with mathematical concepts. You can use the recipe in our Parents Recipe Book or any other recipe you choose. Let the children count out the ingredients and help you to measure quantities with cups and measuring spoons.
- Posting shapes. This shape sorting exercise will help young children to notice the differences in a variety of shapes, and eventually to recognise and name the different shapes. Let the child play with a shape sorter and observe how they problem solve. With practice, they will start to compare the shapes and holes to get the correct result, rather than simply using trial and error.
Magical Maths at Toad Hall nurseries
As you can tell, here at Toad Hall we are passionate about maths in early years, and we are proactively working to help children to enjoy mathematical thinking from an early age. Our Magical Maths programme and Magic of Mathematics Champions ensure that the staff in each of our nurseries are fully trained in delivering maths in early years to help stimulate and educate the children in our care.