Children love number games and counting songs which are just brilliant for encouraging those early numeracy skills. From early years, using fingers and toes to counting steps, blocks, pieces of pasta, there are resources all around to inspire children to count. There are excellent games for them once they have a grip on those numbers and some lovely books to reinforce how fun counting can be (Counting with Tiny Cat is a very funny first counting book!)
I have always been a little bemused as to why early counting songs count backwards (Five little men in a flying saucer, Five little ducks went swimming one day, Five little snowmen fat – definitely a pattern there!). It’s a great skill to have (and super useful for subtraction and mental maths) but it is really important to learn to count forwards. I much prefer the forward counting, admittedly older fashioned, songs as they have the best actions! There aren’t that many though - One, Two, Buckle my Shoe and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a fish alive – do you know of any more?
Talking about catching fish – get your little ones developing their gross motor skills whilst they try to hook a tiddler! There are many ways to play with these lovely pastel fish – can your child collect them in order? Or how many can they catch within a certain time limit. Playing against a friend or sibling enhances social skills and turn taking. As they get older, you can get your child to total the dots on the fish they have caught. The number fun is endless!
Playing games with your child helps their development in so many areas. Aside from the opportunity to spend quality time together, they learn to wait their turn, to be pleased when someone else does well, how to win or lose well – all of these will stand them in good stead when they start to play with other children. Playing number and maths games will, as I have said, help develop those early numeracy skills but will also create an ease with maths which will help them at school.
I am obsessing over these colourful counting toucans from Learning Resources! Just lining them up in order makes me smile (a great opportunity to start using ordinal number language – “which one goes first, second, sixth” etc.) and the temptation to make up little stories with them is strong! A great game to encourage simple addition and subtraction with elements of competition if you want to introduce that. Used in conjunction with maths cubes to help visualise the calculations, this is a brilliant game for your young mathematicians.
Counting books are just fantastic – numeracy AND literacy skills! Why not throw in a bit of science (EYFS Life Processes and Living Things, Plants and Growth) with this endearing counting book by Ruth Brown. Ten Seeds are planted but how many actually grow?
This is a wonderful opportunity to do some cross-curricular learning with your child. Maybe you could find ten seeds to plant and see how many of those actually make it!
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment.
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