Early Childhood Education / Early Years

Debra Laxton and Marilyn Leask with inputs from the MESH Early Years Editorial Board | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
Early Childhood Education / Early Years
Effective learning
Activities and Types of Play
Case Studies

Numeracy/mathematics specific activities - Jennifer Wray

With thanks to  Jennifer Wray, University of Sydney.

Here is a list of concepts which can be developed through counting, sorting and grouping activities, and the role play, games, songs, rhymes and play reported in other sections in this Guide.

Number sense

• more/less, ‘knowing’ how many in a group of up to 5 objects without counting (subitising)

• counting with understanding (including finger counting), numeral recognition

• applying counting to simple addition and subtraction problems, and making equal shares.

Pattern and structure

• Recognising, creating and describing repeating patterns with objects, sounds, movements.

• Recognising, creating and describing similarity, regularity, symmetry (e.g. building structures, making tiling pattern)

Spatial awareness and geometric thinking

• positional and directional concepts and language in relation to own body (e.g. inside/outside, under/over, left/right etc.)

• recognising and representing two- and three-dimensional shapes and objects (e.g. sorting, naming basic shapes, using gesture and body movement, tracing & drawing, building with materials)

Measurement thinking

• Awareness of attributes and direct comparison (e.g. longer, heavier, larger, holds more etc.)

• Using simple units and applying counting (how many steps, cups, stones etc.)

• Time sequences (events, routines, seasons, days) and awareness of clocks (telling time on the hour)

Teaching and learning approaches (connects with Characteristics of effective learning)

• Natural and guided play, including games, stories and role play, interaction with other children and resources (selected to stimulate particular mathematical thinking)

• Constructive interaction with an adult - to set up experiences, gently guide the learner, model mathematical language and sometimes instruct

• Problem solving and projects to engage and motivate learners to apply skills and learn new ones

Kuhne, C., O’Carroll, S., Comrie, B., & Hickman, R. (2013). Much more than counting: Supporting mathematics development between birth and five years. The Schools Development Unit (UCT) and Wordworks. Cape Town.