Early Years Maths Banner
E2BN Early Years Maths

40-60 months

  • Find the total number of items in two groups by counting all of them
  • Use own methods to work through a problem
  • Say the number that is one more than a given number
  • Select two groups of objects to make a given total of objects
  • Count repeated groups of the same size
  • Share objects into equal groups and count how many in each group
  • In practical activities and discussion, begin to use the vocabulary involved in adding and subtracting
  • Use language such as 'more' or 'less' to compare two numbers.
  • Find one more or one less than a number from one to ten
  • Begin to relate addition to combining two groups of objects and subtraction to 'taking away'

Observation 1

The children are involved in preparing the tables for a snack time, they work out how many chairs, cups, pieces of fruit etc. are needed. The children work together to prepare the tables independently.

Lisa was chatting to her friends about how many children were in each group. She said "We need ten chairs here" She walked around the table counting the chairs. She counted nine. She said "We need one more"  then went and found another in the room and brought it to the table. Lisa knows that she needs to count to find out 'how many'. She knows she needs a chair for each person. She knows that nine is not enough, and is aware that one more will make ten. She identifies and solves the problem for herself.

Comment: Preparing tables is an excellent 'real world' activity that presents purposeful problem solving opportunities. It is also a good collaborative activity. Pairing children up for the task can allow you to choose children who could learn from each other.

Observation 2

Mary was colour mixing. She had an A4 piece of paper with 6 pre-drawn circles on it.  She was mixing different colours to put in each circle.  After filling 3 circles with colour she said, "I've painted 3, and I've got 3 left."

Comments: Mary has calculated how many circles she has painted and how many  are left. She is beginning to use the language of addition and subtraction in her play. Adding drawn shapes onto paper for painting can add a different dimension to children's work. There is no pre-defined expectation on the children to use these shapes. However, the fact that they are there can inspire the children to use them. Often these uses are mathematical in nature as the children respond to the numbers and patterns of the drawn shapes. 

Observation 3 

Michael and Louis built a house using blocks, crates and a play box to make the walls. Michael then said "We need loads of mats in this house so it can be cosy."  He then covered the area inside the house with the mats. "We need 2 more mats," he said when the area inside the house had nearly been covered. An adult suggested that he drew all of the things that he needed for the house so that he could put it together again the following day. He counted the mats to see how many he'd used and then drew them.

Comments: Michael estimated the amount of space a mat took up and calculated roughly how many more he would need to fill the space left. He is beginning to use the language of addition in his play. A real purpose to mathematical mark-making was given through the suggestion of recording what information would be needed to re-build the house the following day.

Observation 4

Choosing to play in the dough, Karen decided to make cakes.  She got out one bun tin then another. Karen made a tray of cakes each with "a cherry" on top.  She then began another tray, making all the cakes before adding cherries. When four cakes were complete with cherries she said to herself, "Four ready.......need two more cherries".

Comment: Karen calculated how many buns she had covered with cherries, and how many cherries she still needed to make. The learning environment has supported Karen's intentions and independent play. She knew where to help herself to equipment and what was available and she was motivated by the sensory pleasure of the soft play dough.

Observation 5

After some children had shown an interest in watching the class teacher filling in the register, squared paper had been put into the mark making area. Charlotte began making marks in the squares on the paper. She then began to select children's name cards and copy the names from them into the squares down the left side of the page. After a while, she said, "I just need three more, then all the boxes will be full. She then showed me the complete page and said "That's so I know who to invite to my party".

Comment:  Charlotte was able to make one mark to represent each child. She knew how many more she needed to fill the spaces. She knew the marks would serve a purpose.

Observation 6

Elaine joined 2 other children who had asked the adult to read a Noah's ark picture book. Elaine commented on the animals, describing what they eat and sorting them into groups. "These ones are zoo animals, these ones are cats, leopard and cheetah and lion. These ones are pets, and these are farm animals" naming each animal accurately. "These go in the desert where camels live. These live at the North Pole. Elaine then started to count all of the animals on a page. The adult showed Elaine how to count in 2's and Elaine joined in up to the number 36.She then counted in 2's independently up to 10.

Comments: Elaine takes great pleasure in sorting, matching, discriminating and classifying. The sheer number of animals on the page encourages her to her count. The adult recognises her knowledge of numbers and introduces counting in two's. Elaine is able to apply this method independently.

Observation 7

Tyler lined ten play people up in a row on the table. He then pointed to each person in turn, as he counted one to ten correctly. He then said, "I see one more" and added another play person to the row and counted one to eleven correctly. He did this again and counted one to twelve correctly. Tyler then took two of the play people from the middle of the row and moved them forward. He said "Only two here" counting "one, two". He then counted the row of play people again one to ten correctly saying "I've got ten people now."

Comments: Tyler counted reliably up to ten, then eleven and then twelve people. He added people to his group and calculated his total each time. Tyler needed to return to the beginning of his counting each time to find the total, an adult could now model counting on in a range of contexts.




< 30-50 months