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Learning through Play – mathematical development

This clip from Learning through Play looks at problem solving, reasoning and numeracy and how this may be nurtured through play.

Good for looking at

  • Mathematical development
  • Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy
  • Learning through play
  • Effective adult support
  • The three year old
 

Mathematical development

Problem solving, reasoning & numeracy

This includes quite a number of key skills and is more than just an understanding of numbers and calculation. Some of the skills it includes are s: sorting, matching, counting, making connection, Identifying patterns and relationships and problem solving.

Through activities that are enjoyable and stem from their own interests, children begin to explore mathematical concepts in ways that have meaning for them. Children’s free flow play often involves problem solving and practicing and refining spatial skills, which allow them to make connections, identify patterns and build on previous experience. We see this when Seb is playing with his blocks and cars on the carpet, in the sand tray pretending to be a baker, and when he playing with dough in the kitchen or with planks in the garden. He is using and exploring the words and vocabulary associated with mathematical language, but in ways that have meaning and make good sense to him. He is also inventive in the way he uses words, looking for what he calls, ‘a partner’ for a brick that he wants to identically match to another to create the shape he needs. This is evidence of his understanding of the concept and his ability to explain it to others.

Look out for examples of Seb’s mathematical awareness in other Learning through Play video clips.

Questions for reflection

  • What mathematical concepts does Seb use while he’s playing with the bricks? What other concepts might block play develop?
  • What other daily routines or activities are good for promoting mathematical awareness?
  • How does Seb’s play relate to the mathematical skills he will develop as he gets older?
  • Do you have anxieties about maths? How far do you think your early experiences contributed to your confidence with numbers and maths in general?
  • Are there some aspects of mathematical play you might have missed out on? How do you think you could make up for that now? Would it improve your confidence or ability?
  • What do you understand by the term ‘problem solving’? Look for other examples of Seb problem solving in the other clips in the learning through play series.

Useful reading

Thinking and Learning About Maths in the Early Years (Nursery World /Routledge Essential Guides for Early Years Practitioners) Linda Pound

More Than Numbers – Children developing mathematical thinking by Carole Skinner (2002) Early education

00:03
Using maths is an everyday skill.
00:06
We use numbers frequently,
00:08
like when we're paying for shopping.
00:10
But there's a lot more involved, such as recognizing
00:13
shapes and size, making connections,
00:16
and identifying patterns.
00:19
Seb likes playing with his bricks, and it gives
00:22
him opportunities to use his knowledge of maths.
00:24
What about the dog?
00:25
He can push himself as far as he wants,
00:27
or he can change the game if he wants, its good fun.
00:31
He's picking out the red bricks for his building,
00:33
sorting colors, and he uses his knowledge of shape
00:36
to find the best bricks for the pole for his firestation.
00:39
I need a pole! Beautiful.
00:45
Is that the pole?
00:46
Yes, it is, 'cause it's big.
00:49
The firemen and the policemen haven't moved in.
00:55
Well not yet 'cause it's not quite
00:57
built, but that's okay.
00:59
Well that could be the pole, or this could be the pole
01:03
Well, that's a good idea.
01:07
It could be right here, this could be right here
01:14
The firemen, just the firemen are gonna be down late
01:18
because they're gonna make their dinner
01:21
Well after they have their dinner,
01:23
will they sleep upstairs?
01:24
Yes. But if there's an emergency in the night,
01:28
they've got to jump in the fire engine.
01:31
What color did you want next?
01:34
Blue
01:35
Seb's looking for a particular shape,
01:37
he knows that two bricks put together make the
01:40
shape he wants.
01:42
This one doesn't have a partner
01:45
Oh. Oh look, there it is.
01:50
Partner. Partner. I wish I could put them everywhere
01:58
now what color should we have next? Orange.
02:04
This is a big car, isn't it?
02:08
Seb's pushing his car up the tunnel,
02:10
and while mom thinks it won't fit,
02:12
he's seen that it will go through.
02:15
He has to say it, he has to say it
02:19
What does he have to say?
02:21
No cars
02:22
No big cars under this bridge,
02:24
I'm afraid.
02:25
Why?
02:26
It's just too small.
02:31
I'm going to fit, watch
02:34
Oh, you fit just nice.
02:38
You can go through, then.
02:40
It fits just perfect, too
02:43
You did just fit, didn't you.
02:44
You can go into there as well then, into the tunnel
02:48
He's recognizing relationships in size
02:54
What do you have to say?
02:57
Are you a small car?
02:58
Yes
02:59
Well then you can go by
03:04
Seb's wanting to give a bit of his pie
03:06
to two people.
03:07
It's chicken pie
03:12
As he's cutting it in half,
03:13
he's describing what he is doing
03:16
I'm just cutting it in half
03:21
so you are my mom
03:24
He uses everyday words to describe the
03:26
mathematical concepts of position and layout.
03:29
Look at the doors, we have to do that.
03:31
You want it in the back?
03:33
No that's the front
03:35
Is that the front, and that's
03:36
the backdoor?
03:37
Yeah, they're at the front, they're at the back.
03:41
But this can be the front.
03:46
With his friend Jeremy in the garden,
03:48
Seb's again using words to describe position and structure
03:52
I do it across, the other wood, and you do it forward.
04:02
Forwards, and I will do this one.