Maths activities at home
We use maths more than we think in our everyday lives, from reading the time, counting money and judging measurements and distance. It’s something that we don’t even notice we’re doing as interacting with numbers, shapes, estimation, measurements and calculations comes naturally to us.
As parents and carers, we have the responsibility to help our children develop mathematical skills that are used on a daily basis and ensure they enjoy interacting with numbers, shapes and patterns by making maths fun through everyday activities.
At home, there are a number of activities you can do to help your children and it’s important to begin these as young as possible. Babies can recognise patterns, quantity and space and as they learn through experience and play, they will gain base skills in maths that are needed in daily life.
Learning to count and recognising numerals is something babies begin to be aware of as young as five months as they notice when items are missing. Here are some numbers activities you can try at home:
- Sing number rhymes that promote increasing and decreasing numerals to your child from an early age. Your nursery will be able to give you a list of songs they sing with your children.
- Count as you do daily activities such as climbing the stairs.
- Encourage your child to count out objects as you play together.
- Play matching games using dominoes and dice.
- Set the table together counting out the cutlery
Babies pick up on patterns in early life and as they reach two, patterns become a part of play. Here are some patterning activities to try at home:
- Create simple sound patterns for your child to follow such as clap tap clap tap
- Vegetable printing using different types of vegetables with paint in a flat tray
- Point out patterns you see together
- Make sandwiches together – bread- filling-bread
- Play “Follow my leader”
- Discuss patterns that are matching, different and repetitive
- Read “We are Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen
Shape and space
By exploring the environment around them, babies and children will develop understanding of shape, space, distance and direction. Here are some activities involving shape and space to try at home:
- Posting boxes are a great place to begin talking about shapes
- Block play and building activities
- Cups, plastic bottles, jugs, pots and pans to fill with water and sand
- Tidying up together and placing objects back in their boxes
- Look for and talk about shapes around you
- Enjoy den making activities together
Through experience, babies and children learn about the passing of time, capacity and measurement, with growing interest in comparing objects and working out the differences between them at the age of around three-four. Here are some activities involving measurements to try at home:
- Provide time and appropriate containers at bath time and for filling and emptying
- Talk about the size of objects as part of your normal everyday language using words such as long, longer than, longest etc.
- Match and sort object at home by size
- Play with dough together
- Have a growth chart on the wall to mark your child’s height as they grow
- Baking together is a great activity for measuring and weighing items
- In the bath or when playing with sand or water, introduce the concepts of capacity such as full, empty or nearly full
- Mark the passing of time in conversation such as discussing whose birthday is next, the days of the week and months of the year etc.
We hope you’ve taken some ideas and inspiration for bringing simple maths into your home to help with your child’s development. You can always discuss with your child’s nursery the tasks they have been doing with your child in recent weeks to adopt some of these approaches and activities into your own home.