Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Going on a number or shape hunt. Ideas 33 & 34

More ideas for when the children are at home from school during this pandemic from Creative Star's 50 Maths Outdoors cards.

While we can still go out for a walk with children see what numbers they can find on their walk, where are they, do they recognise them or can they just point them out as numbers?  It all depends on the age of the child, a preschool child might recognise 'their' number (3 or 4) and this is good way to build up their number recognition. Teach them the number of their house as well, it will make the number 'real' to them. 

If you are out for a walk, maybe take a piece of paper with the numbers 0-10 on it and see how many they can mark off, then you can add more with each walk. Do they see any numbers that are the same? I can still remember my excitement when I realised there were numbers on the cars that I passed on a walk when I was a young child. use your phone to take photos of the numbers and make up a number line when you get home. 

Older children could of course add the numbers up that they see and find out which car number plate totals the biggest number. What is the biggest number seen when out walking. Are there odd numbers on one side of your street/road and even on the other? 

Shapes are another thing you could look for out on a walk - there will be 2D and 3D shapes, you could create a tally chart to see which shape is the most popular in your area.  recognising road signs are usually in a shape and why they are different shapes for various messages could be an interesting observation. Why are some circles and some circles? 

Of course numbers and shapes can be combined, like speed limit signs or house number plaques. 

When back home, you could make numbers shapes out of materials in the garden. Draw shapes or numbers on the ground with chalk and ask children to hop to the circle, run to the triangle, jump to number 5 etc. 

I am not expecting parents to be teachers at this strange time but you can have a lot of fun exploring your environment and seeing how your child learns and remembers new information. This is a time to really enjoy how a young child uses their whole environment to absorb new facts and make sense of them. It is not about learning numbers by rote but recognising that numbers have an actual purpose in everyday life and are real, not just something to be learned in a maths lesson.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Learning at home - Can you find me....?

Gathering some stones and painting them during this time will provide endless resources. 
Here is another idea for those stuck at home with young children during this time of Covid-19. I don't want parents to stress about 'teaching' their young children, rather just enjoy this time with them and watching how they interact with their environment. 

One activity I saw when visiting a kindergarten in Sweden impressed me a lot and this is one that can easily be replicated at home. The children were asked to find 4 objects, 3 the same and 1 different and the children's level of thinking was excellent, way beyond 3 are green and 1 is blue. You can read about that experience here: 


But let's start simple: ask your child to find you 3 things, you decide are they to be the same colour, size, shape, type etc. Once they are confident in this activity you can mix it up a little, can you find me 2 big animals and 1 small animal, 1 long sock and 2 short socks. The sky is the limit with this, you can ask them to find anything or just stick to toys. 
3 is an easy number to start with, children are used to hearing about things in groups of 3 - bears, little pigs, billy goats, owl babies etc. Once your child is confident about 3 you can start asking for 4, 5 etc. Stretch the activity out by asking can you hop and find me, can you crawl and find me. 

You can take this activity outdoors and ask them to find flowers, leaves, shapes etc. if you have a tablet or allow them your phone, let them go find the objects and take a photo and bring it back to you. 

Same but different is another great way to extend this activity, get young children to really look at the items they have collected, ask them what is the same, what is different. Young children are really good at this, much better than adults as they notice the tiniest of details. This is great way to get children thinking about sets and how objects are gathered together by their sameness or difference. Initially you, as the adult might have to give them language to describe their objects e.g. 'Oh so you brought me 2 tiny wooden things and 1 very long thing made out of wool' etc. 
Bottle Babies are brilliant for this activity. 

While you can get out for a walk, ask them to find things that are the same on their walk, as they get more used to this activity you can ask 'why are they the same', allowing the child to tell you why they think they are the same, don't say 'no they are not' if they don't quite get it, just step back a bit and keep giving them reasons why they are the same so they will begin to see it for themselves and be able to say why. 

All this is giving your child an opportunity to develop their listening skills; how many was I asked to get, memory skills; can they remember the number/type as they search around the room or house, language skills and mathematical skills. 

At meal times use this as an activity to get children to help set the table, how many people are there for dinner? How many forks, knives etc. will we need? Can you get me 3 forks and 3 knives and let them set the table. 

The possibilities for this activity are endless and I am sure children will come up with lots of new ways to play this. 

Here is a wonderful website with lots of great ideas for helping young children grasp mathematical concepts:

Monday, 23 March 2020

Some ideas for learning at home - Where is teddy?

We are living in very strange times as the Covid 19 pandemic sweeps across the world. 
My year as a nursery teacher has been cut short and my little class have begun new chapter in their lives, learning at home with their families. I have faith that their families will get through this and have fun during the next few trying weeks and months. 

My friend Juliet over at Creative Star Learning Company has created a lovely set of cards '50 Maths Outdoors, Things to do before you are 6 and 3 quarters'. I plan to send the children in my class photos of some of theses ideas over the coming weeks, so families can get outside and have some fun but the idea can also be built upon indoors or outdoors to allow children to develop key skills. 

Idea no. 25 is 'Where is Teddy?'

This idea allows for some many opportunities for young children to really grasp their positional language and 'feel' it as opposed to just hearing it or rote learning it as a phrase. If parents hide the Teddy (or any toy) and then give instructions, look behind the tree, the child will have the chance to grasp exactly what 'behind', 'on top of', 'beside', 'under' really means. 

This activity can be extended, using a table or chair ask a child to put the toy on the chair, under the chair, in front of the chair etc. - you could also ask them to follow your instructions, it doesn't have to be a toy. Let your child give you instructions to see if they do understand what they are saying. 

This could be extended further by gathering lots of toys, soft or otherwise or random household objects and asking your child to put the saucepan beside the socks or the crocodile in front of the coffee bean, beside the cat, behind the big teddy etc. The possibilities are endless. I can guarantee your young child will have a better understanding of their positional language than if they were just listening to the words being used in every day conversation.