Get started with maths: age 3-5
At this age you just want to make sure that your child gets off to the best possible start. These top tips outline some practical information and ideas for you. It's all about exploring number together through enjoyable activities!
Tip 1: Listen to and sing songs and rhymes
Sing songs that have numbers in them, such as '10 Green Bottles' and '1, 2, Buckle My Shoe.' Singing songs is a good way for children become comfortable with numbers. Don't worry if they choose the same songs again and again!
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Tip 2: Play games
Play games that involve number, such as bingo, dice and card games. Board games such as 'Snakes and Ladders' can help with counting forwards and backwards. Dominoes are another favourite.
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Tip 3: Talk about the day
Maths is all around you! You can spot things at home and out and about to talk about.
- At home
Ask children how many items in the living room are square or triangular. Ask: ‘How many sides are there? How many sides are the same length? Ask young children to help you sort the cutlery or the laundry.
Count whenever you can – remember practise makes perfect! Count how many stairs there are, or how many pairs of shoes you have. Don’t worry if children remember the answer – they can count to check!
Try following a recipe together: ‘We need 2 scoops of flour. We need 1 cherry for each cake.’
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Talk about the numbers you see when you’re out and about. Look at house numbers and numbers in signs. Look for shapes in the world around you. Make a leaf collection and sort them by shape, size or colour. Count how many there are in each group.
Tip 4: Read together
Cuddle up and read books together. Take time to talk about what children can see on each page. Count objects and compare the amount of objects from one page to another. Look at the page numbers and say them together. Any book can be used to help children with numbers and counting!
Find the maths on every page with these e-books!
Below are just a few tips and ideas on how to help your child develop their maths skills further.
Have fun practising together by writing numbers in sand with a stick, on the pavement with chalk or on sheets of paper with finger paints.
Write numbers for your child to copy. Hold your hand over theirs as they write the number so they can feel how to write it. Try holding their finger and forming the number in the air. Begin to encourage your child to write numbers on their own.
Want a fun activity to practise writing numbers?
Talk about the numbers you see around you. Use magnetic numbers on the fridge or playing cards. Tap your finger a certain amount of times and ask your child tell you the number or point to the number on the fridge or find the card.
Practise chanting numbers. Encourage your child to join in with you. As their confidence grows, start from different numbers: 5, 6, 7…, etc. When you go out, ask questions such as 'Can you count how many _____there are? (e.g. windows in your house, red cars on the street, cups on the table, green traffic lights on your trip to the shops).
Looking for patterns
Look for repeating patterns on curtains, wallpaper, or clothing. Ask children: 'Can you see a pattern? Tell me about it. What will come next?' Start patterns with blocks, beads, playing cards or toys and get children to build on the pattern to make it longer. Look for patterns in time together (e.g. seasons, months or daily routines) and talk about what you notice: 'We always go the supermarket on a Monday. We go to swimming on a Tuesday.' Listen for patterns in songs and clap or dance the rhythm.
Want more fun ideas to try?
Play 'Shape Tickle'. Draw shapes on your child's back and ask they can guess what shape it is by feel. Ask: 'How many sides has it got? How many sides do you think are the same length?' Cut out a picture from a magazine and cut it into pieces to make jigsaws. Use building blocks or construction kits to make shapes.
Want to read an e-book about shapes?
Practising position words
Practise position words by having a treasure hunt! Follow clues like over the bench, under the tree, next to the bush. Draw a map to show the route you took.
Want to read an e-book about position words?
Drawing and measuring
Help children to practise using a ruler for drawing straight lines and measuring. Make a picture using straight lines. Help your child to hold the ruler carefully as they draw.
Play 'How Long?' or 'How wide?'. Work together to measure objects in the house. Point out the starting and finishing number on the ruler and read the measurement together. Help children line the object up with the 0 on the ruler when they measure.