Recently I set out this numeracy play invitation for R (5 years old). He had so much fun with it, creating his own ways to play with the materials and learning so much in the process. There was a numeracy focus of course, but I wasn’t trying to teach any particular mathematical concept. R led the play and therefore learned what was of interest to him (which turned out to be sequencing and addition).
What made me happiest about this exploration was that although R was thrilled to see the invitation, as soon as he sat down he immediately removed the prettily arranged set up that I had laid out for him and he started creating his own games. It was as though he was saying “yes Mum that looks great but I have MY OWN ideas about how to play”. I couldn’t have asked for more than that.
The first thing he did was to line up the wooden numbers sequentially from one through nine. He enjoys order and symmetry in most of his play – whether it be blocks or Lego construction, painting, or creating something with play dough. During today’s play he demonstrated his usual interest in symmetry.
After placing the numbers in order, he was left with the wooden zero. “Now, what should I do with this?” he asked to himself. He then spied the egg cup, which at that point was empty. He then exclaimed “This egg cup is zero because it is empty. It is nothing!”
He began a new game lining up the dice, one above each wooden number, rotating each one so that the corresponding numbers were displayed on the dice.
When he reached the wooden seven, he discovered that there was no seven on the die. I hadn’t anticipated needing so many dice so after collecting some more from our supplies, I handed them to him and asked “If we place this die to show six, what can we do to make seven?” It took some thinking but eventually he determined that he could use a second die showing “one” and that would add up to seven. He quickly used two dice, each showing “four”, for the wooden eight, and a “four” and “five” for the wooden nine. He was SO excited about completing these sums.
Next came some subitising, as he placed the glass pebbles on the mat to mirror the die.
R then used the wooden pegs to make a grid on the mat and filled each square with a wooden number. There was no particular sequence to the placement. There was however lots of language development as he narrated his movements “I’m going to make the five jump to the middle left square”.
R used every material that was offered on the table. He engaged in some construction play using the small wooden blocks. I didn’t notice until later when I was looking back at these photos that he has followed a sequence with this tower of 3 blocks, 2 blocks, 3 blocks, 2 blocks etc
It was a joy to watch R engage with these materials. There was so much learning going on and he was having so much fun every step of the way. This type of invitation is something I used to do quite a lot when R was a toddler and he was always thrilled by them. Sadly life got busy and I stopped doing it, but after seeing how excited he was during this play session, I am planning to start doing them again more often.
Looking for more fun preschool maths games? Click on the image below to see our Lego Math Game.
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