Fun toddler activities to inspire an early love of… maths

Maths can be fun for parents and toddlers, says Little Learning Seeds founder Laura Clifford

If you are anything like me, you have negative memories of maths at school, but this is a subject that can be great fun and enjoyed from an early age. Many parents think that maths only involves numbers but maths concepts are all around us. The curriculum not only involves number concepts but also shapes, space and measurements, all of which can be used in ways that are engaging and fun for you and your little learners.

Here are some hands-on top tips to encourage your children to become enthusiastic about maths and, most importantly, have fun with all areas of early stage learning in this – you’ll soon see – fascinating subject!

Counters

You don’t need to buy expensive counters, anything can be used: pasta, raisins, buttons, playdoh, pencils, sticks, leaves, conkers, peas, pebbles, cheerios, toy cars, lego, bottle tops etc.

Counting

Count going up and down stairs, count favourite objects by lining them up, food on plates, count birds, trees, leaves etc in the garden. Count forwards and backwards, don’t forget a ‘BLAST OFF’ when counting backwards! Count out correct number of knives and forks, cups, plates etc for laying the table for meals.

Number recognition

Make number cards (or buy flashcards online), make numbers out of playdoh,Lego patterns
write numbers using shaving foam, sand, paint or bath crayons. Set up a number treasure hunt around the house using numbers written on post it notes. Be a number detective, find numbers at home or in your local environment- on toys, in books, door numbers, shop shelves, road signs and number plates.

Ordering

Make a number washing line, write numbers on blocks and build a number line, order objects or toys into sizes, heights or lengths.

 Matching

Make a ladybird or spider template, say a number and your child can make spots or legs to match. Label empty bottles with a number and ask your children to match the correct lid to the bottle or fill the bottle with the correct amount of objects. Make a cheerio, bead or Lego tower to match a given number. Get your child tidying and sorting laundry- match up pairs of shoes or socks!

Sorting

Create a sorting box or basket full of objects and see how your child chooses to Sorting activitysort them. Categories you can encourage: colour, size, type, likes / dislikes.

Measuring

Try baking together- read measuring jugs or scales. Measure length and height of objects using a tape measure or non-standard units such as the table is ’10 plastic cups long.’

Songs

There are many to choose from, but here are a few of our favourites- ‘5 Little Ducks went Swimming One Day,’ ’10 Green Bottles Hanging on the Wall,’ ’10 Fat Sausages Sizzling in a Pan,’ ‘One, Two Buckle my Shoe,’ ‘12345, Once I caught a Fish Alive’ and ‘Ten in a Bed.’

Time

Early elements include talking about days of the week, months of the year, major events or festivals and most importantly their birthday. Calendars and countdowns are fun and visual for little ones. Giant egg timers (available online or at Early Learning Centre) are a fun visual for challenges such as ‘How many star-jumps can you do in a minute?’ or ‘Can you beat the timer to tidy away your toys?’

Patterns

Finger paint colour patterns, potato print shape patterns, make necklaces or Sandbracelets using coloured beads, make Lego or wooden block colour towers.

Money

Coin recognition, let them play with coins, set up a little shop or stall for playing with, talk about what money is and how it is used.

Shape

Go on a shape hunt, find shapes around the house, make shapes using playdoh, wool, pasta or sticks, make pictures using shape stencils or draw around shapes to make shape stencils.

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