At North Islington Nursery School, we aim for maths to be an everyday experience that all children explore. Maths for us is a wide subject encompassing number, space, shape and measure which requires skills in problems solving and understanding concepts. Our aim is for children to develop the confidence to have a go and problem solve, drawing on the knowledge that has been shared with them and concepts that have been taught.
Children are exposed to mathematical learning through open ended play with carefully chosen resources. Babies may fill empty containers with keys, cubes, pine cones etc. with adults sitting alongside them, using number, modelling counting and using language such as more, empty and full etc. will also reinforce the concept of space and measure. Stacking boxes and rings enable babies to explore shape and size as well as supporting developing schematic play patterns.
Throughout the school, children are encouraged to join in with counting songs which explore putting numbers in order, counting backwards and forwards and simple subtraction and addition. Songs provide early opportunities for children to practice saying number names in order and recognising the pattern of number.
The construction area and block play both inside and out ensure that children are exploring 3D shapes and size. Working out which shapes make the best wheels when making model vehicles with Lego, or the most stable shaped blocks for making towers in the block area. Which sized block fits the space? How many planks are needed to create a bridge when outside?
Open ended play and adult led games
Resources provided for messy and malleable play such as bun tins and cupcake cases provide an opportunity for young children to learn about 1:1 correspondence. Adults playing alongside children model saying one number for each object placed/ touched to model counting. Staff also model similar counting strategies such as partitioning, moving objects that have been counted. It is also at this stage that we model that the last number counted is the total. Much of this teaching is through open ended play but we also focus on ‘teaching’ mathematical concepts though adult led games. Games are important to us at North Islington Nursery School. Our games always reflect the interests of children and may feature popular culture or other thematic focusses but each game will always lend itself to encouraging children to participate, take turns, have a go and develop skills and concepts that can then be transferred in other activities with the classroom. Games led by adults also ensure that staff can be confident that children are grasping key problem solving strategies and mathematical knowledge and concepts.