Maths in the Early Years

There are many ways you can begin to introduce maths in the home in the early years. We at Total Teaching believe in the 2 Minute Noodles method of making short but frequent conversations with your children about learning a routine in your home. With this series Maths in the Early Years, we hope to give you ideas of how you can weave math skills into your everyday routines.

Counting at Home

We are very excited to be joined by one of the youngest members of the Total Teaching Team. Billie (4 years old) will show us some of the different ways she practises her counting at home. She also talks about a show that gets her excited about Numeracy - Numberblocks. You can find them on Youtube or Netflix.

Counting Bears

As she counts up to 5 and up to 10, you can see that she is touching one bear for each number as she lines them up. This is a great strategy you can model with your own children.

Joining Groups of Bears

When adding a group of 3 bears to a group of 5 bears, you can see she is confident counting all the bears to add. Her next step will be working to start counting on from different numbers, such as starting at 3 or 5 for this task.

Blast Off!

The last activity Billie attempts is counting bears backwards from 10. Although her counting backwards still needs some work, we can still learn a lot from letting her carry out this task. We can see that she can start counting from 10, she didn’t have to start from 1.

We can also see that she is recognizes counting down as she ends by saying “Blast off!” This association can be built upon to practise counting backwards by adding fun countdowns throughout your day. There are plenty of other ways to get your kids counting backwards, such as singing songs like 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Activities to Practice Counting

Today we are focusing on introducing counting, a basic numeracy skill that kids can use every day. You can encourage these behaviours by being a role model yourself, this can be as simple as counting the toys you are playing with.

There are so many opportunities for learning to take place through play. This time should be used to focus on your child’s learning, not your own teaching. Ask meaningful questions to promote conversation, allow them to make mistakes, encourage them and reinforce what they can do.

Counting from 1-5 and 1-10

This can be done using any kind of toy. It is important for children to have hands-on experiences with maths using concrete objects that they can manipulate to build their numeracy skills before moving on to abstract maths skills. Using toys also helps to make maths enjoyable and fosters a love for counting.

When counting toys and other concrete objects, children are learning 1:1 correspondence. This means that they are learning to match the number they are saying with the quantity of objects they are counting. This is a foundational skill that gives kids meaning to the numbers they are saying.

Adding Two Single Digit Numbers

You can introduce addition with two single digit numbers by giving your child two groups of toys and asking them how many they have all together.

They may use one of two strategies. As they are beginning they will choose to count all of the objects together. So if you have a group of 3 toys and a group of 5 toys, they will count all of them starting from 1 and ending at 8.

As they have more experience counting objects and developing that 1:1 correspondence, they will be able to use a new strategy. Instead of counting all the objects starting from 1, they will attempt counting on from a number. So with our same groups of 3 and 5, they may start at 5 and count up to 8 using the toys in the group of 3. At this point, they are beginning to learn number conservation. They are recognizing that the group of 5 toys remains 5 toys without having to count it again.

Counting Backwards from 10

You can also practice counting backwards using toys. Similarly to counting up to 10, you can guide your child to use toys to help visualize counting down from 10. This is another important foundational skill that will help with early subtraction problems.

We hope you enjoyed these counting activities! Follow along with this series to find more fun and simple early years maths activities to promote maths in your home.