Maths meets playtime

March 3, 2015 Published by

In the National Curriculum, maths covers a range of topics. Children need to be able to work with numbers in different ways, know the properties of shapes, and understand measurements (such as length and capacity). Children can start learning the basics as early as 12 months old, and start becoming familiar with how maths works through play.

We have given advice before on making maths fun, and we also have some play ideas. In honor of World Maths Day, here are some more suggestions for toys, apps and activities that will allow your child to experiment and learn about maths using a hands-on approach. There are even more toys and apps to help children learn maths on our website. We have observed that lots of children who hate maths enjoy apps like these, so we will be taking a closer look at maths apps later in the year.

Play by numbers 

Children need to learn different ways of representing numbers

Preschool children begin with learning the numbers 1 to 20, and also need to become familiar with the different ways these numbers can be shown (as a digit, as a word, and as a quantity). The ‘My World – My 123 Under the Sea’ puzzle (for ages 3-4) will help them practice these. Each section of the puzzle shows the number written, together with a colourful collection of sea creatures for children to count.

A good game for older children to continue practicing their numbers is ‘Zingo! Number Bingo! 123’ (for ages 4-8), which has a twist on the classic bingo game. Children play by matching the number called (shown as a digit on individual tiles) to their card (a grid with the number written, and as a quantity).

Top tip: Encourage your child to practice numbers and counting during their daily routine – for example, getting them to count how many buttons are on their coat.

Divide and conquer

Maths skill can be supported with thiese apps from Edoki

Good Maths Apps by Edoki

Before children can start working with numbers, they need a basic understanding of what it means, for example, to ‘take away’ from an amount. To help preschool children learn this, it is useful to demonstrate with physical objects. To make this fun, you can use toys such as a farm set. Start with four horses in a stable, and ask your child how many there are. Then remove or add a horse, and ask them again. You can also use this to help them practice counting.

Later on, children will be learning to use the four operations, and will be solving problems involving 2/3 digit numbers. Two of the apps we particularly like that encourage children to practice calculations with fun activities are ‘1st Operations’, and ‘Math: Add and Subtract Large Numbers’ produced by Edoki (our current App Developer of the Month) which are based on Montessori principles. They also help children learn different methods for using the operations, such as breaking down large numbers into hundreds, tens and units, and providing visual aids such as bead frames that children can work with.

Top tip: It is important that your child is comfortable with the methods they are using for calculations – so try out different techniques to find the ones that suit them.

Don’t be a square

Tiggly shapes is an excellent tool for making maths funWhen starting to learn the different characteristics of shapes, it is good for preschool children to be able to explore simple shapes and become familiar with them. Shape sorters allow young children to handle the blocks, and learn to recognise the different feel of the sharp corners and soft round edges. Another great product is Tiggly Shapes (for ages 18 months to 4 years). Physical shapes interact with 3 apps that help teach children about shapes whilst watching them transform into animals or objects in front of their eyes (for example, a circle might become juicy berries). You can try out the 3 apps for free: Tiggly DrawTiggly SafariTiggly Stamp.

Older children will be learning to categorise shapes (e.g. shapes with four sides) and using mathematical terms to describe them. The ‘Montessori Geometry’ app is great for this, because it allows children to explore 23 shapes in 2D and 3D. Children can rotate the shapes, learn facts, and play games that test their knowledge.

Top tip: Shapes are everywhere, and you can make use of this by questioning your child about different objects – for example, asking what shape a road sign is.

Measuring up

Maths meets playtime. Playing with water or sand helps children understand basic mathsYoung children can start to gain an understanding of capacity and volume by playing with water or sand, filling and emptying different sized cups. This helps them learn, for example, that a large cup can hold more than a small cup.

When they are older, children can practice using measuring tools and learn what these measurements mean. You can try getting them to cook from a recipe; giving your child a hand with the hot oven and sharp utensils, and guiding them through measuring out the ingredients. You might get some delicious cakes out of it too!

Top tip: Try getting your child to compare measurements to show their understanding – for example, asking them “Are you taller or shorter than me?”.

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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