We love this article that was written by Play Ambassador, Heather Welch for the Genius Of Play so we thought we would share for our shopedx community.
Math is one of the best skills we can teach a child and is a universal language useful for so many aspects of life. Whether managing finances, understanding the scientific world around us, cooking or even telling the time, we use math every day from childhood into adulthood. The benefits of developing good math skills are not to be underestimated and it all starts with instilling a passion for math at an early age!
So how do we spark a passion for math in our children in the early years? It all begins with making math learning fun and engaging, through the simplicity of play. There are math learning opportunities that can be turned into play everywhere, whether at home or out and about.
Number Recognition – The Starting Step!
Number recognition is the one of the first steps in a child’s math journey. We start with audio recognition – teaching our children 1-10 through verbal repetition, and then counting on fingers as a visual representation. We can turn counting into a fun challenge too: How many teddies do you have? How many buttercup flowers can you find in the park? How many red cars will we see on our walk to school?
The next important step in number recognition is for children to learn the written form of numbers. Again, why not make this into a game too? When out and about, how many times can they spot the number ‘5’ today? This is a wonderful opportunity to hone their observation skills as they spot the number on front doors, car numberplates, street signs and posters as they go about their day.
Early Years Foundation Skills (EYFS) – Math Play Ideas
Early years learning within educational settings is very much based around play. That’s because numerous studies have shown that children who have been taught through play-based learning have a more positive attitude to learning, a wider vocabulary and advanced problem solving, lateral thinking and analytical skills compared to children who have been taught in traditional direct-instruction approaches.
As parents and caregivers, we can support EYFS math learning with play ideas at home too. Here’s a few play-based ideas to try with your child, to fuel their exciting lifelong journey with math!
Children love sensory play, so in the warmer months why not set up a sensory play experience in the garden? You can buy purpose-built play trays made from clear plastic, but if this isn’t possible, use old washing up bowls or buckets for holding water or sand instead.
If opting for water play, incorporate different vessels and a plastic measuring jug so children pour and measure the water, comparing results from the different sized containers. The ‘sink or float’ game is great fun too and is a wonderful way to incorporate science learning while honing math skills.
Let children experiment with lots of different objects to see if they can guess which will float or sink, and which will sink at a faster rate. Learning can be taken to another level with the aid of a notepad, timer and kitchen weighing scales for a full-scale study! This is a terrific opportunity to discuss math and science concepts together, such as porosity, weight, and size and how these factors might affect their results.
If playing with sand, hide themed counters, then get children to count and sort the colors. If you are reading about dinosaurs or transport, you can use these themed counters to tie in their learning experiences and interests.
This learning through play idea works equally well as an indoor activity for the colder months too. Simply replace sand with colored rice or pasta! A nice autumn activity is to fill the activity play tray with cookies and give them tongs to find the cookies for fine motor skill development. They can then see how many they can fit into different sized jars.
Cooking is an essential life skill and offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about math and science, with a deliciously rewarding treat at the end of all the hard work too!
Math learning can begin with a visit to the supermarket. Choose a cake simple recipe and print out the ingredients list to take to the shop. Children can use the list to compare different sized packets for the correct amounts for their recipe, and even compare the prices of different brands too. They can use a calculator to add up the total as they shop, adding to the math learning experience.
Once home, the cooking magic can begin! Have children count, measure, mix and enjoy the fun of it going from liquid to being baked. Use this time to explain processes and results to add to the science element of learning, whilst helping develop language skills and understanding.
Math is a fascinating subject with so many opportunities for fun, so let’s help our children experience the great joy of early years math learning!
To see all the other experiences articles head over to www.geniusofplay.org