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Play Guide - Pre-school Skills Maths
Playtime hints and tips to help practice early maths skillsYour little one might learn 1,2,3 at quite a young age, but, don’t be fooled into thinking that this means they understand the meaning of numbers. Learning numbers is just like learning a rhyme, but counting is about understanding that ’three’ means a group of three objects.

Some games that help with learning maths and the understanding of numbers aren’t always that obvious but here a few tips:

1. Counting and learning the names of numbers

Learning the names of the numbers is the easy bit! The easiest way is just to count, but there are also lots of counting rhymes to enjoy too-

Fish alive

One, two, three, four, five
Once I caught a fish alive (Count fingers on one hand)

Then I let it go again(Count fingers on second hand)

Why did you let it go
Because it bit my finger so (Mime biting of finger using index finger and thumb on left hand )

Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.
(Bite the little finger)

One two buckle my shoe

One, two buckle my shoe
Three, four knock at the door
Five, six pick up sticks
Seven, eight lay them straight
Nine, ten a big fat hen.

2. Sorting

All numbers over one actually refer to a group of things – before a preschooler can understand what numbers refer to what size of groups, he has to learn about sorting and groups. This is surprisingly difficult so help him throughout the day with lots of practice:

* Sort the white washing from the coloured wash?
* His clothes from your clothes?
* The potatoes from the carrots?
* The tins of tomatoes from the packets of pasta?

3. Matching

Matching one to one and sorting things into groups are skills that are the basics of maths. In order to understand what 1-2-3-4- means a child needs to be able to match each number with a precise quantity. The first step in doing this is to match one to one. Matching one to one is the process of putting things together like pairs of socks, or cups saucers.
* Put all the odd socks into a bag, and every few weeks ask the children to sort them into pairs.
* Can he lay the table? Give each person a knife and fork.
* Can he use his tea set to match cups and saucers?
* Can he match each person with their clothes?

4. Number matching

Now you can look at matching the names of numbers to the right size of group. Just look at small numbers until you’re happy he’s ready for bigger ones!

* Draw the numbers 1 to 3 on a page
* Either draw little boxes in front of each, or actually put a small box there.
* Give him six smalls objects like pasta pieces and six like raisins, ask him to play at putting the right number of objects in the right box.
* Remember to give him big praise when he gets things right!