The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework (for children aged 0-5) expects that children should be able to:
“count reliably with numbers from 0 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number.”
Learning the basics of numeracy involves a lot of repetition and hands-on activities for toddlers and young children so it’s best to start early and give our little ones a head start for when they get to nursery school.
Finger counting can be started very early on. While babies won’t understand exactly what’s happening, lightly pressing and wiggling their fingers or toes while counting from 1 - 10 is a good way to set the foundations for learning about numbers and counting. Finger counting will help young children to recognise the significance of each number and enable them to start practising counting on their own.
Toddlers love grabbing hold of objects and working their fine motor skills. Building blocks are great for tiny hands. Using blocks with colourful numbers will catch children’s attention and encourage them to play with the blocks. They will begin to recognise the numbers on the sides and eventually parents will be able to work together with their children to help them learn to count and order the number blocks.
Beach Ball Numbers
There’s nothing children love more than the chance to play a ball game. For a great at home numbers activity, inflate a beach ball and write numbers 0-20 on the coloured segments. Then roll the ball between you and your toddler, an activity which supports the development of hand-eye coordination, and help them to identify which number is marked on the side of the ball that’s facing them. For school age children, you can progress onto throwing and catching the ball.
Painting numbers is an excellent way to promote number recognition in young children. For toddlers, using simple line drawn number templates and encouraging them to finger paint or try to use a paint brush within the lines of each number is a great start. For children who are a little older, they can start painting numbers by following dotted lines or even just copying a number and starting to do it freehand.
Counting Your Steps
When a baby first starts to walk, it’s a momentous occasion for any parent! Sometimes they’ll still need support though and during this time, while holding under their arms, you can count their footsteps as they go. As they become more confident they can be encouraged to count their own footsteps while they walk. Being active can help children to remember new things. Build up to more complex games like Grandma’s Footsteps.
There are lots of very simple but useful number based activities that parents can enjoy with their children. On top of these five, make a habit of counting items as you go about your day and pointing out numbers you see when out and about.
Article supplied by Sam Flatman is an outdoor learning specialist and an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Play. Sam has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the school curriculum.
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