Building strong mathematical foundations using playful approaches - A toolkit

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The word ‘maths’ can sometimes provoke a knee-jerk reaction – often connected to our own experiences of maths in school. Yet, maths surrounds us in conversations or through what we see! As Early Years educators, making mathematical meaning is key, as we facilitate conceptual understandings with young children through their explorations of the world around them.

Making connections, facilitating inquiry and keeping it playful can feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be! Look for small, tangible moments to engage and provoke, whether it is comparing the size of shoes, building with blocks, or counting how many spoonfuls of yogurt – the opportunities are boundless!

The goal is not to push children to master complex math concepts before they are developmentally ready, but rather to provide rich, engaging experiences that spark their curiosity and help them develop a love of learning. By keeping it playful and fun, you can create a positive association with math that will serve children well throughout their lives.

This toolkit has been put together to enhance the already existing opportunities, as well as enable you to make connections with what young children are finding out through maths play.

Use this resource to:

  • Connect to the big ideas for Early Years maths
  • Discover how maths is already happening in your setting
  • Use books as a provocation for maths talk with children
  • Find links to further your own learning around Early Years maths
Lisa Kane
Director of Early Years Curriculum at Toddle

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Disclaimer - This resource has been produced independently of and not endorsed by the IB. Toddle’s resources seek to encourage sharing of perspectives and innovative ideas for classroom teaching & learning. They are not intended to be replacements for official IB guides and publications. Views and opinions expressed by the authors of these resources are personal and should not be construed as official guidance by the IB. Please seek assistance from your school’s IB coordinator and/or refer to official IB documents before implementing ideas and strategies shared within these resources in your classroom.
Lisa Kane
Lisa is a passionate early years educator, having found her way into the field after being fascinated by the rapid and wondrous development in the first years of her own children’s lives. Following these curiosities has taken her through a degree and post-grad in Early Years education, and clocking up over 20 years of hands-on experience in a variety of international school settings. Lisa believes that learning is co-constructed alongside the smallest humans, and is energised by the curiosity, awe and wonder they generate.
Classroom Strategies, Early Years
Making Mathematics Playful- A Toolkit
Math is more than just numbers! And it can be made even more meaningful and enjoyable with play. With this toolkit, build a deep understanding of why play is important in Early Years mathematics and begin to explore how you might integrate playfulness into mathematics.