EYFS Maths at home

Children learn mathematical concepts best through language and practical activities. In order to understand the number system, children need to be aware that numbers always follow the same sequence, numbers can be used to show “how many” objects are in a group, and that the last number counted shows the total number of objects in the group.  In order to develop these concepts the children need to practise saying the numbers in order, counting groups of objects, knowing when to stop counting (so objects are not counted twice), recognising the written numbers and matching numbers within a group of objects and recognising differences in quantity (more and less).


Top Tips to develop early skills!

  • Encourage your child to touch each item as they count, remind them not to count things twice!  You could try asking them to put the correct number of items or toys in a bag.

  • Ask your child to say the number that is one more or one less. For example you can say I have 8 pencils and then ask your child  “ how many would I have if there was one less or one more?”

  • You could try giving your child cut out paper numbers from either 1-10 or 1-20.  Ask them to order them then try taking a number away – ask your child “which number is missing?”.  You could try making number books with your child.  Just make a book with A4 paper and write numbers from 1-10 or 1-20 at the top.  Children should draw a corresponding number of objects on each page to match each number.

  • Practise doubling or halving objects at home with buttons, coins, sweets or other everyday objects.

  • Ask your child to trace over letters to develop their number formation.  You could even try reversing numbers so your child has to identify which ones are wrong.


So that children enjoy acquiring new skills they should see their learning as fun -  so number rhymes, number games such as snakes and ladders, card games and counting games are excellent ways of introducing and practising these concepts with young children.

Talking to your child and asking them about their ideas is also a great way of determining how much they understand.  For example asking them questions such as “can I take 10 away from 6?” Also giving them practical questions to solve is  a brilliant way of developing early mathematical problem solving skills.  An example could include  “If your sister has 3 sweets and you have 3 more, how many will you have altogether?” or you could ask “There are 4 biscuits and 2 children how many do they each have?”

There is a wealth of interactive games available on the internet which are free and specifically aimed at reception age children and year One.  Try logging onto www.topmarks.co.uk this website contains games that are aimed at developing counting and number recognition, shape recognition, use of positional language and problem solving skills.  Games you could try at home include:

‘Teddy Numbers’ great for recognising numbers to 15

‘Underwater Counting’ great for developing counting skills

‘Ladybird Spots’ great for ordering numbers.


Here are some additional ideas for practical games you might want to try at home.


What time is it Mr. Wolf?

This game helps your child to count, say numbers in order, talk about clocks and time, reading o’clock times on a clock face and take turns in a game and follow simple rules.  It requires several players.

Choose a person to be the “wolf” and stand some distance away from the rest of the group, e.g by a wall or fence. Other players spread out into a line facing the wolf and ask “What time is it Mr Wolf?” the wolf replies with a time, e.g “3 o’clock” and the children take 3 steps forward and stop. The question is repeated and the player moves forward, counting their steps each time until they are very close to the wolf. At the next question, the wolf replies “dinner time” and chases the players back to the start. First child to be caught by the wolf is the next wolf and the game begins again.


Mystery Shape game

Learning about shapes requires far more than the simple naming and recognition of different shapes. It also develops the child’s understanding of a lot of mathematical conceptual language and understanding to compare similarities and differences between objects. In addition to learning about basic shapes children also need to learn specific words such as “straight”, “curved”, “flat”, “sides”, “corners” “points”.  Imagine a 3 sided shape with round corners instead of points. Why is this not a triangle?

You will need a tray of assorted 2D and 3D shapes and a feely bag. Place a single shape into the bag ask your child to feel the shape inside the bag.  Ask them to describe what they can feel for you to guess. Encourage them not to say the name of the shape, but to give clues, e.g. “it has 4 straight sides, all the same, no curves” etc

Useful words you could use include:  solid, flat, 2D,3D, round, straight, curved.


Skittles Addition game

This game encourages quick thinking and mental arithmetic to calculate small additions. It also allows the children to follow their own interests and fascination with numbers: You could try subtracting the number of skittles knocked over and those remaining, adding the scores or values of the skittles knocked down and keeping a tally of the scores for each player etc.

You will need a set of skittles labelled 1, 2 and 3 (with each number appearing several times), a piece of  paper and a pen. Take turns to roll the ball and calculate the score by adding the numbers on the skittles that have been knocked over. After 6 rounds stop and add up the scores to find out who is the winner.

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