Making Maths Magical for JB this Summer

Teaching maths is easier and more fun when learned through other mediums, such as through the environment and through stories and poems. When we allow children to learn early maths skills and concepts this way, we are allowing a joyful experience that makes long-term neural connections because it is accompanied with positive emotions, fun language and play.

Stories with maths make a useful structure for extending play. During the summer break, JB will have lots of containers to use to fill, transfer and empty in a variety of shapes and sizes. I know he will do this because he enjoys doing it and therefore he needs it. This activity is extremely absorbing and teaches weight and measure. Language used will include ‘full’, ’empty’, ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘bigger’, ‘smaller’ etc.

Size can also be reinforced by playing with boxes of various sizes. Organising treasure boxes to discover and to make, ensures wonder and discovery is mixed in. An activity that I will enjoy with JB will involve collecting treasures we find outside; in the park, at the beach and fill the boxes with them such as leaves, twigs, small stones, and flowers. The objects collected will reflect the size of the box they will go in.

The language used will make essential links between the experience children get from the world and mathematics. Askew (1999).

Counting and the Outdoors

The ability to count with accuracy is the fundamental math skill to calculating and quantifying. The skills and concepts involved include reciting number names in order, counting objects as well as remembering which object we started with, understanding that any tangible or non-tangible thing can be counted and that zero represents nothing.

Games and Activities

Football Goals

After lining up 10 footballs, ask your child to kick each ball into the goal one by one. At the end, count how many balls went into the goal and how many did not. Vocabulary used here include, ‘aim’, ‘kick goal’, ‘miss’, numbers to 10, ‘count’, ‘how many’, ‘more’, ‘less’.

Find the Creatures

Bury a variety of plastic bugs in the soil or sand. Play with your child asking ‘lets see how many creatures we can find’, providing a small container to put them in. This can be followed up by categorising the creatures if you have a few of each spiders, beetles and frogs for examples as well as counting each category and counting them in total.

Let Your Child Lead You

For most of the day, I will allow JB lead the play with a short period of adult initiated activities. I find for JB that first thing in the morning and last thing at night are the best times. Before bedtime I would use fiction and non-fiction books.

If we know what our child needs to master, we can organise the activities beforehand and have the options available for our children to choose. For specific games and activities outside, I will plan to carry these out during the earlier part of the day when I know JB will most likely respond and be engaged. Children in general are happier when they have chosen their activity (as many reception teachers have realised and are now practising this) and as such, learning is more effective again, because positive emotions are being tapped into.

Sensory Play

Sand offers a multiplicity of learning opportunities, especially when teamed with other materials.

  1. Metal and wooden containers provide extra-sensory experiences and invites plenty of maths language
  2. We can add larger versions of buckets and spades, reinforcing more weight and quantity maths concepts. Making mud food is and improvement of the old mud pies which also encourages children to move around whilst learning.
  3. using measuring cups and scales, we can develop fun imaginative play in a play kitchen which can set up outside and talk about weights and measures

Other Maths Activities

Apart from the abovementioned forms of play, there are other activities that I will use with JB. I have listed these in categories.

Visual and Auditory

A.R.R.O.W. | Doman dot flash cards | Mandala patterns | Face reading | Sign Language

Tactile Sensory

Building with blocks | Printing with blocks | Playing with pebbles | Sand paper numbers | Sand, soil and water play

Discussion Activities

Sand and water play | Transferring | Mandala Patterns | Cooking | Cogs | Games | Imaginative play

Practical Life

Transferring | Sweeping | Cleaning windows, tables etc. (Spatial Awareness) | Cooking | Role play


Pointing out numbers | Counting objects in environments | Pointing out large and small objects in environments | Talking about objects that are the same or different (ie size, colour, shape etc.) | Running in different sized spaces (playing ‘tag’, encourages spatial awareness) |Singing number songs in transit | Talking about fast and slow

Specific Places to Visit

Historic places | Theme parks | Beaches | Animal Parks/Zoos | Museums | Live music performances | Theatre | Parks and playgrounds | Forests and walks | Art galleries

Focused one to one Activities

Puzzles | Sand paper numbers | Classification | Mandala Patterns | Maths language flash cards

Using the Arts for Maths

Using instruments | Listening and dancing to music | Counting beats | Singing number songs with actions | Painting | Printing numbers and shapes


Rhymes and songs | Stories and factual to introduce and reinforce a visit or experience | Reinforce maths concepts of quantity, shapes, classification , same and different

Maths Resources

I will use most of these ideas for much our summer. There are however many more activities to do to address other areas of development but maths remains one of my priorities. I hope we all have a lot of fun with our children as we teach them and my hope is also to take care of ourselves and have some relaxation after each exhausting day! Look out for my next blog on summer activities to addrress Fine Motor Skills.

Cornelia xx


The Early Years Foundation Stage & How JB Fits Into It

The EYFS simply described is a set of developmental stages for the under 5’s that outlines specific educational and developmental milestones for each early years age group that each child is expected to reach. It is a compulsory framework for almost all under 5 providers in England who are expected to provide opportunities planned around each child’s needs and interests which need regular reviews and assessments.

It was of course no surprise to me when I received JB’s first report based on the EYFS. Areas involving working relationships, speech and listening and attention were meeting much younger age groups developmentally. So based on his levels, I have devised a thorough work plan for him to help him reach the expected levels whilst progressing at his own pace. Progress here is the key word, small steps or large isn’t the issue.


I didn’t want JB mainstreamed expecting him to overnight meet all the expected levels. I’m mainstreaming him to give him the opportunities and exposure of everyday language from his peers, high expectations from teaching staff, behaviour and modelling to emulate, goals to reach and accepted and loved for who he is. We have been shown time after time that children with Down Syndrome do better in mainstream schools, so giving it a good go makes complete sense.


As much as the EYFS is criticised for its overly prescriptive and overly assessment demands, I see its point. I think it is particularly useful for parents and teachers of children who have special educational needs. I am using this framework to know which areas of development I need to concentrate on for JB in activities both after school and especially during the upcoming summer holidays. This is to prepare him as best as possible using a variety of activities which repeat a same learning concept in different and creative ways whilst and keeping it flexible.

So at JB’s last assessment combined with my own knowledge of where he is at developmentally and educationally, I have planned a timetable for him which I will share. Firstly, lets look at the EYFS. The EYFS is divided into 7 areas of development which are:

The Prime Areas;

  1. Communication and Language
  2. Physical Development
  3. Personal, social and emotional development

The Secondary areas;

  1. Literacy
  2. Maths
  3. Understanding the world
  4. Expressive arts and design



These are the specific areas broken down and where JB is at present. These are approximations:

Moving and handling                           22-36mths

Health and self-care                             22-36mths

Speaking                                                    16-26mths

Understanding                                        30-50mths

Listening and attention                       30-50mths

Managing feelings and behaviour    22-36mths

Self-confidence and awareness        30-50mths

Making relationships                           22-36mths

Exploring and using Media                 22-36mths

Being Imaginative                                 22-36mths

People and communities                     30-50mths

The world                                                  22-36mths

Technology                                               30-50mths

Numbers                                                    22-36mths

Shape, space and measure                   22-36mths

Reading                                                       30-50mths

Writing                                                        22-36mths



As well as JB’s day to day topics schedule detailed below, outings will address many of the topics and experiences that JB needs, and these will comprise a bulk of the summer. Music is included daily because JB cannot live without it! He shows a great interest in music and this therefore translates into a great need. Books will help to address and reinforce reading, the world, people and communities, numbers, listening and attention, understanding and speaking. Trips to the park, swimming and other forms of exercise will also be incorporated into his daily routine.


Music and movement

Reading and speech (flash cards)


Tactile sensory

Managing feelings

Writing and fine motor



Music and movement

Imaginative play






music and movement

writing and fine motor


tactile sensory

managing feelings and behaviour

The world




Music and movement

Imaginative play







Music and movement

Writing and fine motor


The world






Gross motor



Tactile sensory



This is JB’s plan, designed for him. What I am encouraging is that each of us keeps taking our children a step forward each day, waking them up a little more each hour by being aware of what they need. It is also important to know that they need ‘down time’, meaning after some energetic learning (and all concentrated and experiential learning requires a lot of energy for the brain), we must give our children at least five minutes to relax to let everything process. This goes for typical children as well and this is important to know. Ideally a relaxing walk will help with this, but just letting go is key.

Recommended websites


In my next few blogs, I will detail the activities that I will use with JB for each topic each day. I will include details of resources, techniques and further sources of information for each topic.  My next post will cover maths which includes shapes, space and measure as well as numbers. If there is any really good information I am missing, please let me know.

It’s been fun so far, let’s keep moving our children forward together with fun.

Thanks, Cornelia xx