Mathematical Development

Activity - Counting cups

Words to use with your child: how many, count, number, number names, more, enough, too many.

A lovely number activity to play in the garden or the sandpit.

Collect some plastic cups or yogurt pots, spoons and some soil or sand. 

Write number on the pots (a sharpie pen works well for this) Begin with 1-5 and then challenge them further with number 6-10.

Can the children put right amount of sand or soil into each numbered cup …. 1 spoonful in the cup with a number 1 on and so on.

Children will be recognising numbers, counting accurately and matching quantity to number as they play.

You could also put numbers on the spoons so children can match the spoons and the containers.


Activity - Sorting shapes

Words to use with your child: square, circle, triangle, rectangle, semi-circle, diamond, kite, cylinder, sphere, prism, cube, cuboid, curved, straight, corner, angle, round, edge, surface, flat.

Children can learn the name of shapes by looking at them in a book, but, if they find shapes in the real world it helps them to remember the differences of each shape by handling the object and thinking about whether it is straight, curved, flat etc.

Play a shape game where your child has to go and gather objects from around your home or garden and sort them into the correct column.  Help your child to understand the properties of each shape “there is a curved edge all the way round this plate, it must be a circle.”

If your child is already confident with 2D shapes then try 3D shapes such as cylinder, sphere cuboid or prism.  This works particularly well with items from your food cupboard.

Activity - Counting Daisies

Words to use with your child:  How many? Count, more, fewer, less, most, fewest, least, total, altogether

Draw around your feet onto pieces of cardboard and cut them out.

Take your footprints for a walk and place them on the grass to see how many daisies are inside each one.

Which has the most?

Which has the least?

How many are there altogether? 

Children will be counting irregular arrangements, making comparisons and finding the total of 2 groups as they create flowery footprints.

Don't forget to share some photographs of your flowery feet. Have fun.

Activity - Stick shapes

Words that you can use with your child: shape, square, triangle, rectangle, side, corner, point, how many, count, more, most.

Collect some sticks and see what shapes you can make

  • Can you make a triangle?
  • Can you make a square?
  • Can you make a rectangle?
  • How many sticks have you used to make your shape?
  • Which shape has the most sticks?
  • How many sides does your shape have?
  • Can you make a house? What shapes can you see in your house?
  • Can you make a shape big enough to sit inside?

Children will be learning shape names and their properties, counting and comparing as they explore the sticks.

Have fun and don't forget to share photographs of your stick shape creations.

Activity - Rock Towers

Words to use with your child :taller, shorter, tallest. shortest, count, how many?, more, less, few, most. least, fewest, flat, round, big, small, biggest, smallest, bigger, smaller. 

Collect some stones and rocks, talk about their shape and size.

  • Which is the biggest?
  • Which is the smallest?
  • Build some towers.
  • How many stones are in your tower?
  • Which is the tallest tower?
  • Which is the shortest tower?
  • Which has the most rocks? 
  • Which has the least rocks?
  • Can you make 2 towers that are the same height?
  • Can you draw your tallest tower?


Children will be counting and comparing height, size, shape and amounts as they problem solve and record their idea of number.

Activity - Ten pin bowling

Words to use with your child: count, how many? size, big, small, large, little, tiny, medium sized, record, score, most, least, less, more.
Collect 10 empty plastic bottles. They can be any size.  Arrange the bottles in a triangular shape.  Mark a line on the ground of where to stand.  Roll the ball. The aim is to knock over as many skittles as possible.  Count how many skittles you knock down and record this on a score sheet.  Children will explore how to make marks they can explain as they count, record and compare scores.
Have fun!

Activity - Sorting

Words to use with your child: count, how many? Colour, size, big, small, large, little, tiny, medium sized, pattern, curved, round, corners, shape, circle, square

If you can get out into a garden start collecting leaves with your child. Can you sort them into big ones and little ones? Or by colour, you could even count them too.

If you can’t get out collecting leaves, try sorting other things by shape, size, pattern or colour, like socks, old pens and pencils, buttons or coins.

Activity - Ordering

Words to use with your child:  long, short, longer, shorter, longest, shortest

Make a collection of sticks of different lengths.

Which is the longest?

Which is the shortest?

Are any the same length?

Can you put them in order from shortest to longest?

Children will be exploring length as they sort, compare, order and problem solve.