It all adds up. How play can support early years numeracy development.
1. Exploring and construction play
In exploring and construction play your child will be experimenting with objects and toys. This experience is valuable for the development of their mathematical skills around spatial reasoning, geometrics, and proportions. For example, your toddler will determine that the ball (a sphere) rolls and the block (a cube) does not. Hopefully, they are not figuring out this concept from any height…. Like mine did or continues to do.
2. Pretend Play
So, how do you do it?
Let me first say, you already are! And you’re doing an absolute killer job. I bet you’re embedding numeracy every day and you can be sure your little one is learning from it.
- Singing songs about numbers; 5 little ducks, the ants go marching etc. You can find some handy print outs with these lyrics here; (Numeracy Songs PDF)
- Counting their fingers and toes or features aloud. E.g. “You have two eyes”
- Clapping in multiples of two or three, switching between tempos.
- Building number sense and their knowledge of alternate ways to represent the same number. Print out my handy cards!
- Counting, sorting and categorising objects aloud.
- Pointing out objects in their environment. E.g. “That is a very tall tree” “That apple is bigger than this strawberry”
- Counting food as your serving or offering. E.g. “How many grapes would you like?
- Using tactile resources to support reading books with numbers.
- Create shapes with playdough. Try these printable mats I created; (Playdough shapes PDF)
- Making and breaking numbers with loose parts. (Build a tower of three, take one away, add one on top etc.)
- Question everyday objects in their environment. E.g. “Which car is bigger?” Don’t be afraid to ask them a follow up question around why or how they know. This is the best opportunity for them to develop their justification and reasoning skills.
- Creating repeating patterns using coloured counters or blocks.
When using The Play Card prompts you can add that extra numeracy boost to every activity; here are just a few specific examples.
- Frozen blocks: Once those blocks are free, show your child which block is longer, count the studs on top, order the blocks from smallest to largest.
- Trace a hand: Trace your smallest humans hand first. Then layer each hand of the family over the top. Prompt your child with questions like which hand is bigger? Who has the longest fingers?
- Scoopy scoop: Use two bowls with difference capacities. When transferring, ask your SUC questions like which bowl can you fit more in, play with them to test your hypothesis.
- Tray kick: When your tummy timer is kicking away, you can try make sounds as well in a simple pattern.
And last but not least try not worry about the mess and involve those munchkins in all the play recipe cards. You wouldn’t believe how cooking can support early years numeracy development ;)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monique is a Secondary Maths, Science, STEM and Senior Biology teacher in Queensland who has a passion for meaningful simple play.
Mon and her husband Dane packed up shop when Taj was born and moved into a 19ft caravan to live and travel Australia. Tummy time by Uluru, counting each step on hikes in Kakadu and walking countless beaches in the Eyre peninsula, it was bliss. During this time she learnt a lot about herself as a mother and the team her and her husband became. Life was as simple as it gets and the surroundings became the inspiration for play. Now at home on maternity leave with the addition of baby Eli, Mon thrives on fostering the boys passion for learning, play and exploration.
If you want to follow Mon, toddler Taj and baby Eli check out their Instagram @Our_Little_Toyroom