Learning Maths through Play is Fun
For any child who has set their mind against maths, getting them to progress can be a real challenge. However, at Fundamentally Children, we firmly believe that whilst not everyone will turn into a mathematician, learning the primary school level basics really can be fun.
The answer is to help children learn through play and everyday life experiences without focusing so much on it being maths.
Also, don’t forget that maths isn’t just about numbers: measurement and geometry (shapes, positions, directions) are all part of the curriculum too. There are lots of ways to support children’s maths learning at home without even mentioning numbers.
If you’re interested to know what is covered in the UK maths curriculum, you can find the full details here.
Can toys really teach you Maths?
There are countless board games out there that can help, particularly with numeracy. Some have the maths element as the central theme while for others its more of a side effect. For example, many children would not consider Monopoly to be a maths game, but it certainly helps them understand money, practice counting etc.
Equally the Top of the Tables football game will appeal to all those football fans out there, while helping children practice times tables and multiplication. Games like Numenko are more obviously maths related but the fun cross-word style made this incredibly popular with our little testers – well worth a try for maths lovers and haters alike!
Here are some other great Maths toys and board games approved by the Good Toy Guide:
Are Maths apps worth paying for?
We’ve tested many maths apps for the Good App Guide and there really are some great ones out there. One thing we can definitely say is that most of the best ones do cost something, not a huge amount, around £2-3. If this really helps your child engage with maths, and make more educational use of their screen time, it seems a small price to pay.
One of our long term favourites is Skoo Crew. This is a scooting game that our little testers absolutely loved. To get extra lives and other bonuses they go into Skoo School and answer a few maths questions to test their mental arithmetic (with different levels to cater for different abilities). We found this was a great incentive.
The Tiggly Maths series of apps (which can be played with or without the Tiggly Maths product) are also great fun for younger children (3 – 6 year-olds) – Addventure and Tiggly Chef are particularly popular.
Our favourites from the Good App Guide include:
Ideas that don’t cost anything
There are so many ways in which you can incorporate maths into everyday life, particularly for younger children, whilst keeping it fun.
- Cooking: Cooking is a great opportunity to get children understanding measurement, quantities, and numbers. Go on – be brave and give them the bag of sugar to weigh out, or if they are too young for that, get them to read out the numbers on the scales and tell you if you need more or less.
- DIY weighing scales: Create your own balance scales with as little as a coat hanger, some string and a couple of little bags. Get children to try balancing different objects on each side to see if they can make it balance and learn about weight in the process.
- Going to the shops: Young children particularly love role play. Whether you have a toy cash register and toy money or want to use a box with different sized buttons or even cheerios as money imaginative play involving buying and selling can be a great way to practice numbers. Of course once children are a bit older encouraging them to save pocket money and pay for things themselves is also really educational.
- Estimate: Learning how to estimate is a really useful skill and a great way to practice measuring, fractions and arithmetic. Get children thinking – is that taller or shorter than a typical doorway? Is a child half the height of their parent or taller? Get a child to lift a bag of flour and tell them that’s 1kg then get them to try lifting other items at home and guess what weight they might be.
- Throwing beanbags: create your own games with a scoring system which requires children to practice their maths while they play. For example, set out zones for children to throw bean bag to. Assign different scores to different zones (more scores for zones further away). Take it in turns to throw and get points based on where the beanbag lands.
There are endless other ideas to bring maths into everyday activities and games. Please do add your ideas in the comments below. We’d love to hear your ideas!
This post was written by Lucy Gill