Maths At Home

Here are some ideas that can help your child develop their mathematical skills both in the home and out and about with the family.

Everything children encounter contributes toward their mathematical development. The home learning environment is a significant factor in predicting young children’s later outcomes. Even daily chores can be be learning experiences which can be made ‘play-full’ by encouraging a sense of fun and enjoyment while the child learns and develops

No matter how confident you are, you can support your children’s maths skills at home. Help them think of fun activities, they don’t have to be complicated or written down. It is the simple practical things where children are active that works best. Physical activity develops children’s working memory which links directly to improvements in areas such as numeracy and spatial reasoning (how we understand the way things move and are located in relation to ourselves and others).


  • Counting steps/stairs as you go up or down.
  • Finger or action rhymes that include numbers – 5 little sausages, 5 current buns, 5 little ducks etc.
  • Look for house / door numbers while out and about.
  • Recognising numbers on the bus or car registration plates.
  • Identify numbers on TV remote or cooker.
  • Helping with the shopping – we need three oranges and two lemons. How many altogether?
  • Talking about the child’s age and those of the rest of the family.
  • Use ordinal numbers (first, second, third etc.) in going through steps of a recipe, having a race down the garden, or getting dressed in the morning.
  • Handling money at the shops. Role playing ‘shops’ at home using coins and counting out the right number
  • Drawing child’s attention to the clock – e.g. we’ll have tea when the big hand is on the 6
  • Play board games with dice or dominoes so they understand the group of dots represent a number.

Sets and Sorting

  • Sorting the washing
  • Tidying away toys – getting the toys in the right boxes
  • Pairing up socks and shoes
  • Talking about similarities and differences between objects or people
  • Sorting everyday objects in the kitchen.
  • emptying the dishwasher and putting matching things away (cutlery, plates and bowls etc.).


  • Following different sequences e.g. laying the table, getting dressed, in the same way each time
  • Singing songs or telling stories with a clear pattern, sequence of repetition, e.g. Old MacDonald, Three Blind Mice, Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • Looking at the patterns on curtains, wallpaper, wrapping paper. Children can print their own wrapping paper to wrap a friend’s birthday present
  • Looking at patterns on buildings e.g. bricks in wall, windows
  • Building with blocks and different construction toys – using one piece after another.
  • Laying the table – putting things in a repetitive pattern.
  • Helping peg out the washing – 2 socks, 1 t shirt etc.
  • Talking about events throughout the day in order of sequence

Shape, Space and measure

  • Describing different containers and packets in the kitchen and at the supermarket, talk about their size, their shape, their height, width and depth.
  • Finding shapes in the child’s own environment e.g. road signs, post-boxes, windows and doors, books). Look for similarities and differences, talk about how many sides to a shape, corners, points, rounded etc.
  • Doing jigsaw puzzles (looking at the shapes of the pieces and the ‘holes’ where they could go, and keeping the overall shape of the puzzle develops spatial awareness). Encourage your child to look at the picture for clues of where pieces should go, look at the shape of the piece, is it the right shape for the hole?
  • Playing with car mats, train sets, or outside on tricycles. talk about being infront, behind, beside, over taking, going fast or slow etc.
  • Estimating how much is needed, for example, how much bread to make 4 sandwiches, how much icing to ice the cake. Talk about a little bit more or less.
  • Playing in the sand pit using different containers, talk about their weight, full or empty, pouring slowly and fast etc.
  • Bath time or washing up time – pouring from one container to another, filling different containers, using containers with holes. Talk about full, empty, half full or half empty.
  • Tidying things away into different boxes and containers – will we fit them all in?
  • Comparing different lengths (dog’s lead, socks, shoelaces), weights (shopping bags, toys), areas (footprints of child and adult), sizes (teddies, chairs for child and adult) and capacity (child’s beaker and adults’ glass, bottles of squash).
  • Measure your child’s height at regular intervals so they can see their growth. Talk about the tallest and smallest.
  • Use a tape measure to measure things (careful of the spring back on an adults tape measure). Talk about length, centimetres, meters, shortest, longest etc.

Outdoor Maths

Learning doesn’t just happen indoors, there are loads of maths opportunities outside, even on a walk in the woods. Wherever possible take advantage of the abundance of natural mathematical experiences that children can discover outdoors.  There are lots of free resources there to collect too: pine cones, leaves, sticks, stones shells etc.

  • Counting cars (how many red, blue) etc. on the way to nursery or the shops.
  • Looking at numbers around us – on house doors, registration plates, shop windows.
  • collect sticks, pine cones, conkers and line them up in size order.
  • collect stones and look at their shapes and sizes.
  • collect sticks, which is the longest, shortest, can you make a shape with them, how long can you make a line if you lie them along the ground.
  • pick up leaves and find matching ones, count the points, size order, do they resemble any shapes.
  • look around you for shapes, windows, roof, drain covers, street signs etc.
  • Make a sundial on a sunny day by simply sticking a stick into the ground and watch the shadow move. You could chalk a line on at each point.
  • Catch rainwater and predict / estimate how much you can catch.
  • Go on a bug hunt and count how many of each species you find, you could make a tally chart.
  • Have a maths obstacle course, have spots to hop twice, jump 3 times, you could even chalk the number onto the areas for numeral recognition, ask them to go on the highest blocks or lowest.

The list is endless.

Whatever you do make it fun, learning through play allows children  to take risks, make mistakes, try new things, think creatively and make connections. Adults meaningfully engaging in their play demonstrates your respect and value for it, while providing opportunities to extend, model, practice, consolidate, introduce new ideas, concepts and vocabulary.