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Early Years

Children get their first experiences of numbers and maths through everyday play and talking at home. Maths makes many adults feel anxious but you can still give your child a great start by being positive about maths.


At this age, children are beginning to:

  • learn early maths language of measurement, shapes, spaces, positions, numbers, order and patterns.
  • know the sequence of numbers.
  • understand positional words, e.g. in, on, outside, under.
  • show an awareness of time.
  • learn number rhymes and songs, e.g. one, two, buckle my shoe.


Here are some great activities and games you can play at home to extend your children's learning.


Number bonds to 10 and 20


A number bond is when two number add up to make another number. Children in early years need to ensure that they are able to explain all the numbers bonds of 10 and 20 e.g knowing that 7 needs 3 more to get to 10 and 13 more to get to 20. A fun way of learning numbers bonds is by using different snake challenges provided by 3to11maths. Children begin at the snake's tail, where there is an addition sum to begin.  The answer is the start of a new sum.  Children to complete each sum going around the snake until they get to the head.  Once completing the last sum children must check it matches the target number. If a child has not matched the 'target' number it encourages them to go back and check where they made a mistake before the teacher checks it. Try some at home by downloading from below and printing off the different snake challenges. 


Number Hunt

A simple activity such as hiding different numbers around the house make reading numbers a exciting adventure!  You can then get children to start looking for set numbers of items e.g I found three spoons, I found 4 balls! To extend this activity you can then get children to try and find the answer to sums around the house using simple follow me cards, like the ones below. Try printing them off, placing them around the house or the garden and go for a maths treasure hunt (you could even put a reward at the end!)



Simple Sums Treasure Hunt

Around the house

There's maths in all those everyday activities you already do together.

When you're at home, there are plenty of opportunities to play with numbers and develop those everyday maths skills. Always point out that you are doing maths - this helps children understand that maths isn't a scary thing.


Tips & Ideas

  • Measure ingredients or set the timer together when you are cooking.
  • Practise counting up to twenty, and backwards too.
  • Find the same amount of different items to help your child understand what numbers mean. For example, find 3 spoons, 3 hats, or 3 socks.
  • Talk about the shape and size of objects, e.g. big car, round ball, rectangular book. Ask questions like ‘pass me the biggest box’, or ‘which is the smallest shoe?’.
  • Play with things like shells, bottle tops, beads, Lego - and compare them. You can make patterns with them too.
  • Put things in order – of weight, height, size. Ask your child to help you organise things at home.
  • Make patterns with objects, colouring pencils, paint or play-dough.
  • Build structures with Duplo, Lego, or cardboard boxes.
  • Solve problems by working out ‘how many altogether’ or ‘how many more’, such as: ‘We have 3 red apples and 2 green apples, so how many apples do we have altogether?’ or ‘We have 6 chocolates/oranges/crisps, if I eat 3, then how many will we have?’