I love teaching mathematics in the early years. It’s hands on, consisting of lots of exploration of mathematical concepts through play, as well as teaching the foundation skills of maths too. I teach maths in 3 parts. This blog post will outline each part and the reasons why.
Teaching maths as part of a routine
Children learn concepts through repeition, this also helps them to develop a deeper understanding of a concept. This is why I have linked maths into our daily routines. The concepts of comparing amounts, counting and developoing childrens early number sense is all part of our classroom routine.
On a daily basis children vote for a story by placing one pebble next to the book they would like to read that day. Throughout the day the children have the opportunity to compare the amount and give reasons to how they know a certain book is the winning book for the day. This is so early to set up and a fun way to decide on a story too! It also introduces children to having a voice, the importance of a vote.
When doing the register we also discuss how many children are here today. We use 3 10 frames to draw the children’s faces and count. For instance, if a child is absent we discuss one less and if a child comes back from an appointment, for example we discuss the concept of one more. This is a great way of children grasping the counting principles and realising the last number of the set is the amount.
Teaching short maths inputs
In order for children gain further mathematical skills I plan daily, active, whole class maths sessions. These sessions consist of practising concepts such as counting using objects or cubes, rote counting or developing number sense in other ways, as well as focusing on a specific skill for the day. For example, children may learn the names of shapes. The short input allows all children to learn these skills before exploring them through play in more depth. This works well alongside effective teaching through play too.
Children learning to count accurately by developing all of the counting principles is essential in the early years. To ensure that all children are achieving this, early intervention is key. I ensure that all children have opportunities to count during our input and children are informally assessed based on the counting principles they have achieved. Most children can confidently count correctly at the time of year, however there is a small group of children that still need to concur this. I set up daily interventions for these children but counting is developed through fun games such as rolling a dice and stacking cubes to make a tower. The children love this game and are really competitive with their peers as the longest tower is the winner!
I follow the white rose maths planning as this has broken down the steps into simple, important steps in order for children to develop a deeper mathematical understanding. You can view the documents for free here and find out more too.
Teaching maths through PLAY!
Lets save the best until last! I believe that this is the most important way of teaching maths in EYFS and even KS1 too. Children are actively exploring, predicting and asking questions linked to bigger mathematical concepts. Effective questioning, subject knowledge and playing alongside children can expand children’s understanding leading them to learning new concepts.
The construction area lenses itself to so many mathematical opportunities. Shape, space and measure opportunities can occur whilst children build and creatively make different models. I have used measurement with a ruler whilst creating a train track with a child using large pieces of paper. Whilst children are outside we have created obstacle courses and used positional language such as under and over. Making play dough consisted of children counting out cups of flour and salt and measuring amounts in order to follow the instructions. The children may choose to play fun games using a dice which helps them to subitise by instantly recogonsing the numbers on a dice.
I ensure that there are lots of open ended resources available which can be freely used in any area of provisions so that all children are given the opportunity to understand maths in different ways. I wouldn’t worry about recognising numbers at the beginning of the year, but as the year goes on these skills can be planned into the teacher inputs. The pre-skills are key and with these in place children will build great foundations.