Young children love interactive play, so what better way for them to practice their maths skills than with hands-on activities. Kinaesthetic learning helps children associate what they learn with the real world and it appeals to their natural curiosities. We’ve chosen our favourite early years maths activities to help your child get a head start in the subject. All the activities below require little equipment and can be enjoyed at home a minimal cost.
Ah, the joys of Lego. This particular activity is great for improving a child’s spatial awareness and understanding of shapes and patterns. All you’ll need is a box of Lego, some paper and colouring pencils.
Start by drawing a simple shape that your child will be able to recreate using Lego bricks. Give each brick in your drawing a different colour. Ask your child to build the shape that you’ve just drawn, using the same colours.
If your child needs some assistance, start by helping them collect the correct shaped bricks in the correct colours. Once they have all the pieces they’ll need, show them how to start building the shape by working from the bottom of the shape upwards. Once they’ve completed the shape, compare it to the drawing to see if it matches.
The great thing about this game is that you can start out with simple shapes and gradually make them more complicated as your child gets quicker at building them.
This activity is similar to the missing number games that you see in quiz books. But since these are hands-on activities, this one is craftier. You’ll need some A4 card, a marker pen and wooden clothes pegs.
With your child, cut a strip of card length-ways about 2 inches thick. Write the numbers 1 to 10 along the card, missing out one number. Write the missing number on the end of the clothes peg so that when the peg is pinned to the card, it completes the sequence.
Cut several strips of card, missing out different numbers each time and writing them on a peg. Pretty soon you’ll have lots of number sequences and lots of pegs to choose from. Test your child by showing them a number strip and asking them to find the missing number amongst the pegs. Have them pin the peg in the correct place in the sequence.
This activity helps develop fine motor skills and tests your child’s numeracy at the same time.
Singing maths songs with your child is a great way to make numeracy fun. Rhymes and songs can often help children process information more effectively. When children sing, they take in information without realising that they’re learning – to them it’s just a lot of fun, particularly if you add in actions while you sing. Set aside some time with your child to sing songs that incorporate numbers. Some of our favourites include:
- Ten Green Bottles
- Five Green Speckled Frogs
- Five Little Ducks
- There Were Ten in the Bed
- Once I Caught a Fish Alive
- The Ants Go Marching
- Five Cheeky Monkeys
If you aren’t familiar with some of these songs, then the Childhood 101 website has the lyrics to most of them in this post.
Step on It
Feeling fit? This activity combines physical exercise with mental arithmetic. It can be played with one child, or with a group. All you’ll need is A4 sheets of card, a marker pen, some sticky tape and a wooden or linoleum floor.
Start by writing down ten numeracy questions but don’t show them to your child. For younger children, you can stick to addition and subtraction questions between 1 and 10, and for older children, you can introduce multiplication and division questions up to 100. Write the answers to each question in large numbers on the A4 pieces of card.
Shuffle the cards and stick each one down on the floor using the sticky tape (to avoid slipping). Once all the cards are stuck to the floor, have your child (or children) stand back as you read the questions out loud. Once your child has worked out the answer, they need to run and step on the corresponding card. The quicker they can step on the answer the better. If there are several children, have a contest to see who can stand on the correct card first.
This maths activity combines creativity, numeracy and spatial awareness. You’ll need some A4 card, scissors, and a marker pen.
With your child, cut out heart shapes from the card and then cut them in two down the middle using a straight, or a zig-zig line. On one side of the card, write a maths question, and on the other, write the answer. Aim to make around ten hearts in a similar way, writing a different question each time.
Scatter the broken hearts over the floor and ask your child to match the questions with the answers until all the hearts are made whole again. As your child starts to get quicker, you can time them to see if they can beat their personal record.
At Edu Prints Plus, we have a whole range of times table posters that are perfect for helping children improve their maths skills. All of our maths prints are made from high-quality 350 gsm art card with a lovely velvet finish. Each one also has added surface protection to combat sticky hands and spillages.
If you’re looking for ways to make maths fun, you’ll find our posters a great addition to their learning. All of our prints use bright, bold colours and easy-to-read fonts.
Here are two of our favourite times table prints below: