Learning and Development

Building blocks – 5 inspiring maths activities for early years

  • Building blocks – 5 inspiring maths activities for early years

For children to really develop mathematical skills and understanding in the early years, they need a variety of rich opportunities.

And by providing some key resources we can enable them to build a strong foundation in this learning area, and demonstrate a ‘have a go’ attitude.

Below are my top five inspiring resources to do just that!

1 | Numicon

Numicon is fantastic for supporting teaching and learning in lots of key mathematical concepts counting, number value, numerical patterns such as odd and even numbers, spatial awareness, shape – the list goes on! 

It’s a regular feature among my continuous provision, alongside the 100-square baseboards for children to explore independently, providing a multisensory approach to mathematical development. 

You’ll be amazed at how well the children will develop their fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills through use of this resource.

2 | Wooden blocks

Providing high-quality building blocks for children to play freely with will encourage them to talk about and explore shapes informally. 

They will develop mathematical language as they select appropriate shapes for whatever they are creating, and it also provides opportunities for adults to talk about the shapes and how their properties suit their purpose. 

This is a must-have open-ended resource that supports shape and space development brilliantly.

3 | Dice, counters and tens frames

Dice show numbers in visual representation so that children can count the dots or develop the ability to subitise – quickly recognising numbers of things without counting them. 

Providing dice alongside counters and tens frames brings opportunities to count objects and compare amounts, in turn developing associated vocabulary such as ‘more’, ‘less’ and ‘the same’. 

It’s the stepping stones to build upon for introducing addition and subtraction. These resources will help children to develop a better understanding of the value of numbers.

4 | Natural resources

Adding natural materials like glass pebbles, shells, stones and corks to continuous provision provides opportunities to explore pattern – whether that’s pattern within or on the natural material – and to create repeating patterns using them. 

Using the objects, you could invite children to copy and/or continue the pattern you’ve started. It’s also fun to make a deliberate mistake and ask the children to help you fix it. 

Spotting patterns in objects supports children to find patterns within the number system too – which is an important skill to develop.

5 | You!

We know that educators have the opportunity to spark curiosity and instil a love of learning for all children, so showing enthusiasm for mathematics is vital! 

If children observe adults who have positive attitudes towards this learning area, they are more likely to get involved and form the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically.

Even if maths wasn’t exactly your favourite subject at school, we all have the opportunity to provide children with a rich learning environment so they can develop the foundations of mathematical knowledge and vocabulary. Recognise the value of yourself!

For more great ideas and inspiration, follow Laura on Instagram at @lauraloveslearning.