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Snack time – counting and amounts

Snack time is a really useful time to bring in math concepts in a way that makes sense to young children. The adult uses this time to bring in concepts of counting and quantity.

Good for looking at

  • Maths
  • Number and amounts
  • Routines - snack time
  • Socialising
  • Effective adult support


  • What cues can you see that show what the children are interested in? (Look out for non-verbal and body language as well as spoken language)
  • In what ways does the adult support the children’s interests and understanding of counting and quantity?
  • How does the environment support the children’s learning?


What are your thoughts about:

  • The areas of learning and development that were covered during this snack time?
  • How the children were learning and the characteristics of effective learning? (Maybe something about self regulation?)
  • The adult’s role – how did she support the group of children, specifically with mathematical concepts?
  • The importance of the organisation of the provision?


What would you do to:

  • Use routines like snack time to support children’s development of mathematical concepts?
  • Support the children’s interest in counting and understanding of quantity?
  • Develop children’s knowledge and understanding of other mathematical concepts such as sorting, capacity and pattern?
  • Encourage children to reason, engage in problem solving and share their knowledge with others?

What next:

  • Did watching the clip help you notice any particular strengths or weaknesses that you might have when trying to support children with maths during routine snack times? Do you use these times as a learning opportunity?
  • Do you provide opportunities for children to develop skills such as cutting, spreading and pouring? Think about how these opportunities support children’s mathematical thinking.
  • Do you provide ample time for snack (and meal times) to enable adults and children to engage in conversation and focus on the many opportunities for problem solving and reasoning.
  • Consider how to extend children’s thinking by encouraging children to represent their mathematical ideas using drawings and marks?
  • What does snack time look like in your setting? Could you make time for observations of routines like snack time in your setting?