1) Grab some post-it notes or scrap paper and write some numbers on each one. Initially, start with numbers 1-5, then as your child gains confidence, move on to 1-10, 1-20 and finally numbers within 100.
Hide the numbers around the house, garden or local park. Ask your little one to run round and collect as many numbers as they can in 2 minutes (set a timer on your phone). Once they return, arrange the numbers in order and discover which ones are still missing. If they don’t know yet, that’s okay, you can help them! Now give them another 2 minutes and repeat until all the cards have been found.
This is a great way to build number recognition while burning off some steam and even helps to establish lengths of time by adding a countdown element.
2) Laminate a piece of plain paper (or use a whiteboard). Write a number using a whiteboard pen and give your child some playdough (or make your own) and ask them to cover the shape of each number in playdough. This is a pre-writing skill that helps children recognise the shape of each number and will eventually support their ability to write each number. Once done, ask them to place the correct number of objects, such as buttons or chickpeas, on top of each playdough number.
This is a great hands-on activity that keeps little minds busy and is the perfect opportunity for you to get a few jobs done while they work!
3) Grab a white crayon (even a broken one will be fine) and write some numbers on a piece of paper. Press as hard as you can so they will definitely show up.
Next, use watercolour paints to paint over the top of the markings. Your little one should be able to reveal the hidden numbers underneath!
The best part of this activity is you can use up scraps of materials that aren’t much good for other things, such as broken crayons and those dreaded dregs in the bottom of a watercolour pot! But, if you don’t have watercolour paints, a drop of regular paint mixed with water (to make it a bit thinner) will work just as well!
4) There are a few ways to do this activity, but it is always a hit in our house and definitely one of the most requested!
Arlo is very interested in cars, so I will explain using that version, however this can be adapted to absolutely any interest. For example, if your little one is more into animals, use pens at the zoo. If they love cooking, use ingredients in pots and pans etc.
All you need to do is grab a few items you already own and put a little sticker or post it note on the back with a number. For example, I might grab 5 cars and put different numbers on the back of each.
I will then use masking tape (or chalk outside) to create 5 boxes on the floor. On each box, I will draw the matching number of dots for each car.
The idea is to park each car in the correct parking spot by matching the number 3 to the parking space with 3 dots and so on!
If you want to really uplevel this activity, you can use masking tape or chalk to create tracks or paths too, so that the cars/animals have to follow the line from a starting position to the correct box. This is a really great fine motor skill as well as promoting some gross motor skills such as balance!
5) Maths isn’t all about number work… It also includes shape and measure, too. A great activity I love to do is measure how long things are using non-standard units of measure (this is something they will be taught in school, so a great way to begin!)
All you need to do is grab something to measure (literally anything from their favourite teddy to themselves!) and something to measure with (again, literally anything from Lego blocks to spoons or leaves).
Lay the item on the floor and measure the length using your chosen measuring tool. For example, your dog might be 8 spoons long or your sand pit might be 14 leaves wide.
A great, practical maths activity!
In the photo here, Arlo is using a Catkin Club printable to measure the length of different fish using round counters!
Well, there you have it! 5 maths activities to keep you going without having to spend a penny!
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