The life of me

Maths mastery in the Early Years

It’s hard to find a perfect balance between teaching and playtime in the early years. Developing maths as part of a daily routine is a great way to start.

A guest blog post for Maths No Problem! Please see more info:

During the early years, it’s all about balance. Children should be learning through adult-led activities but still given enough time to play. Too much work and children get restless; too little and they don’t make enough progress. Including maths talk during play can help you get the balance right.

Developing understanding with careful questioning

When children play and interact with other children, there are always opportunities for maths talk. Putting maths top of mind and providing children with careful questioning can help children develop a deep understanding of it.

“I have made a pattern, what is your pattern?”
“How many blocks taller is my model compared to yours?”
“How do we know this area is full?”
“I have three cars, how many do you have?”
“Do you have more?”
“How do you know?”

Be mindful of how much time you’re giving a child to think and answer. Again, it’s all about balance. Give learners long enough to think about their answer and give their response, but not so long that it disrupts the flow of play.

So, how do you make maths talk part of your daily classroom routine?

Adding maths talk activities to your daily routine

Developing maths talk in your daily routine gives learners a chance to understand it while using real-life concepts. It also means that children can consolidate what they have learned and practice, practice, practice!

Here are some activities to get you started.

Activity #1: how many children are at school?

There are lots of opportunities for children to count during the school day. One easy activity is to get your class to work out how many children are at school by placing a picture of themselves or a counter representation on large ten frames. This is a great way of counting and spotting patterns using ten frames.

Ask learners questions like:

“How do we know this ten frame is full?”
“How many children are absent?”
“How do you know?”
“What can you tell me about the number ___?”

Getting learners familiar with ten frames and building their number sense in the early years is great preparation for Year 1.

Activity #2: sorting and grouping objects as a class

Sorting and grouping objects as a class helps children learn to reason and look for patterns — skills they’ll need to master maths.

Give children a variety of buttons each day and ask an open-ended question like, “how can we sort the buttons?”

The children should use their critical-thinking skills and come up with a range of ideas like sorting by size, colour, pattern, and shape.

Activity #3: vote for a story

Provide an area for children to vote for a book. First, ask a child to pick two books. The rest of class then votes for their favourite book using a piece of lego. Cubes, counters, or any other abstract concrete resources will also work.

Every child has one vote a day and should place their lego piece next to the book they want to listen to during storytime. But of course, only the winning book is read.

We have great discussions on which book has won each day.

“How do you know?”
“How many more votes did one book have than the other?”

The rich opportunities for maths talk in this simple daily activity are endless. My class loves this activity and it’s just as effective in KS1 as well as the early years.

Children in the early years develop the concept of maths mastery through maths talk, practicing the skills they’ve learned during play, and developing number sense. The key to introducing mastery in the early years is to keep activities fun and part of your daily routine. The more learners explore maths through play, the more engaged they become.

The early years set the stage for a learner’s journey through primary school. If we work to make maths fun and relevant right from the start, then that message will carry throughout primary school and beyond.

The life of me

Back to blogging!

It has been a ridiculously long period of time since I last blogged! Since then I have had so many personal achievements and life events.

I have welcomed my baby boy into the world and started the amazing life of motherhood. I have also enjoyed purchasing, designing and decorating my own home.

I am excited to get back to blogging about all things education. I am hoping to also blog activities I do with my baby boy too.

I hope all is well in the blogging world! Please look out for my next posts and support and comment!

MissPinnock TeacherturnedMummy!

The life of me

A review of areas of provision! The Message centre

#MissPinnock’s message centre

After a year in Reception and developing the areas of provision, its always good to review the areas and reflect on what has worked well.

This year the children have enjoyed playing in the provision. I have stood back many of times and just watched how they have turned into independent learners. The resources, planning and provision ideas have sparked their curiosity, leading them to further challenge and work with their peers to move their learning on.

I have had parents explain how their child loves the classroom and counts down the days until they are back in school. They just can’t wait to ‘play!’ I truly believe hard work pays off. I have spent a long time planning and resourcing each area of provision alongside some amazing support too. So today, I am going to review the message centre. An idea taken from Greg Botrill, I completely changed my mindset and way of thinking about a ‘writing area.’ Greg inspired me to create magic around writing and messages. The children would traditionally hardly use the ‘writing area.’ They would spend ages drawing or colouring if they were in there. Boys would avoid it due to thinking they had to sit and write and that just sounded soooo boring! Especially to reluctant writers. Who would want to sit in a WRITING area?

I introduced the message centre right from the beginning of the year. It’s always been filled with different coloured paper, post it notes, envelopes, pencils, pens, highlighters, felt tips and of course… every so often we receive SECRET MESSAGES!

The children absolutely love finding a message. I have had messages from pirates, dragons, kings, queens and aliens. After a child finds a message the area is immediately flooded by children wanting to reply and write. I introduced secret symbols at the beginning of the year. Children were eager to write messages back despite not knowing all of the ‘phonemes.’ I did wonder how children would transfer from writing these symbols to writing words but as they became more confident with their phonics the children naturally started to write words instead!

I have to admit that the message centre is by far one of the most popular areas of provision and it is rarely ever empty. The shift of it being a ‘writing area’ to an amazing, magical message centre has certainly had a huge part to play. I would highly recommend purchasing Greg Botrill’s message centre course. You can find out more here:

Greg Bottrill on Messaging and the Message Centre – Early Years TV

**Please note I am not being paid in anyway for this post!**

Thank you for reading!


The life of me

A busy year for us all!

It’s been an extremely different year in education for everyone. So much blogging for me has taken a huge back seat. It’s been on the back of my mind but everything else just takes over. The work load and COVID as well as other unexpected dramas of life itself has all been a bit much this year but I am back!

How has your year been? I do feel that the children have been so resilient and have made good progress despite all of the disruption. I know this is definitely not the case for all school and for some it may have been the hardest way to engage parents and children in education.

I am hoping that now the only way is up! It’s nearly the summer holidays and we are all completely exhausted and ready to try and find some ‘norm’ for the summer. I can’t wait to have lots of sleep, catch up with family and friends and hopefully have some memorable days out too. I am also excited to be a bridesmaid this summer (fingers crossed)!

Let’s hope we can have a nice end to the year, for the children if not for anyone else.

I will be back blogging as normal soon…

Take care!


The life of me

Free home learning resource links

Here we are again with lockdown learning! I have created a list below of FREE resources you can use for home learning. I hope this helps. Good luck to all teachers and parents. We have done it before and we will certainly get through it again.

Phonics/ reading

Oxford Owl for School and Home

Epic | The Leading Digital Library for Kids | Unlimited Access to 40,000 of the Best Children’s Books & Learning Videos (


Alphablocks – YouTube

Lockdown lessons for homeschooling – BBC Bitesize


White Rose Maths | Free Maths Teaching Resources | CPD Training

Primary video lessons | NCETM

Numberblocks – Series 1 | NCETM

PE/ exercise

Home – Cosmic Kids

BBC iPlayer – Andys Wild Workouts

Other useful links

Dough disco is great for fine motor skills.

cbeebies website

Why not try a new recipe?

Get your child involved in writing a shopping list, helping with the laundry, creating a calm chill out space in your home.