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Counting, Crafting and Exploring: Ten Quick Maths Activities for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Primary school child using maths in the kitchen
Uncover the joy of maths in the Early Years Foundation Stage with these ten immersive activities. From outdoor adventures to kitchen experiments, embrace playfulness while cultivating fundamental skills based on the EYFS framework and tailored for young pupils.

In the early years of a child’s primary education, providing a positive and engaging environment for learning mathematics is paramount. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a crucial developmental period, laying the groundwork for a child’s cognitive abilities and shaping their attitudes towards learning. Recognising the importance of making maths enjoyable and accessible, educators often seek creative and interactive ways to introduce mathematical concepts to young learners. In this article, we look at ten hands-on maths activities for EYFS, each carefully crafted to not only instil foundational mathematical skills but also to spark curiosity and a love for numbers. From outdoor adventures to kitchen experiments, these activities aim to create a dynamic learning and lesson experience that intertwines playfulness with essential early mathematical concepts. Let’s embark on a journey through these engaging activities that promise to make the world of mathematics a place of exploration, discovery and joy for our youngest of primary school learners.

Counting with Nature
Take the children on a nature walk and provide each child with a small bucket and basket. Instruct them to collect a specific number of different natural items, such as leaves, stones or flowers. For instance, ask them to find and collect five leaves. Afterwards, gather as a group and have each child count their items out loud. This activity not only reinforces counting skills but also introduces the concept of quantity and helps children understand the relationship between numbers and objects.

Number Hunt
Create an engaging scavenger hunt by hiding number cards around the play area or classroom. Each card should display a number along with a visual representation of that number of objects. For example, a card with the number “4” could have four pictures of ducks or even simple dots. Children then embark on the hunt, finding the cards and matching them to the correct quantity of objects. This activity promotes number recognition, visual quantities and teamwork.

Shape Sorting
Set up a shape exploration station with a variety of objects representing different shapes. Include items like a circular plate, a rectangular book and a triangular block. Allow children to touch and examine each object before sorting them into baskets based on their shapes. This hands-on sorting activity not only introduces basic shapes but also encourages tactile learning and observational skills.

Measurement Madness
Create a measurement activity by introducing simple measuring tools like rulers or tape measures. Guide children to measure the length of various objects in the environment, such as tables, chairs or their own toys. Start discussions about longer and shorter lengths, and encourage comparisons between different objects. This activity provides a practical understanding of measurement concepts and lays the groundwork for more advanced discussions in the future.

Maths in the Kitchen
Enhance cooking activities by incorporating various measurement tasks. For instance, ask children to measure a specific amount of ingredients using measuring cups or spoons. Challenge them to count the number of ingredients or portions needed for a recipe. This hands-on experience not only reinforces counting and measurement skills but also introduces the early understanding of fractions by dividing ingredients into equal parts.

Number Bonds with Playdough
Elevate the playdough activity by introducing the concept of number bonds through storytelling. Create a narrative where characters combine playdough balls to represent different number bonds. For example, tell a story about a friendly animal with two friends, highlighting the number bond “1 + 2 = 3”. After the story, children can create their own playdough number bonds, reinforcing addition concepts creatively and imaginatively.

Maths Stories
Integrate maths further into storytelling by encouraging children to create their own maths stories. Provide them with prompts or props to inspire their narratives. For example, offer a set of toy animals and ask the children to create a story involving counting or simple addition. This activity not only promotes creativity but also allows children to actively participate in the creation of maths-related narratives.

Pattern Play
Immerse young learners in the world of patterns using an array of colourful materials such as beads, blocks or stickers. Begin by demonstrating a simple pattern, like ABCABC. Engage the children in hands-on exploration, encouraging them to replicate and extend the sequence. For added excitement, introduce variations and ask them to create their own unique patterns, encouraging not only pattern recognition but also unleashing their creativity and critical thinking skills. This interactive and creative activity provides a solid foundation for understanding and appreciating patterns in the world around them.

Number Line Jump
Make the number line activity more dynamic by incorporating movement and music. Play a number line jumping game where children hop to different numbers while a song plays. Call out instructions like “Jump to the number 7!” or “Jump forward two spaces!” to keep the activity interactive and engaging. This kinesthetic approach reinforces number sequencing as well as promotes physical coordination.

Mathematical Puzzles
Introduce a variety of puzzles that cater to different mathematical concepts. For example, provide puzzles where children match numbers to the corresponding quantity of objects or solve simple addition and subtraction problems. Rotate the puzzles to maintain interest and challenge children at various skill levels. This primary activity not only sharpens problem-solving abilities but also encourages persistence and a positive attitude towards mathematical challenges.

By expanding on these examples and incorporating them into the EYFS framework, primary school teachers and educators can create a rich and varied maths learning experience that accommodates different learning styles and ensures a solid foundation for future mathematical concepts.

Liked this post? You might want to read Sparking Christmas Cheer: 15 Quick and Simple ‘Elf on the Shelf’ Ideas for Your Primary Classroom.

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