A lot of the focus during our numeracy sessions is about developing awareness of cause and effect, 1:1 correspondence and awareness that an object is still present, even if they can't see it! All of these things can be taught to your child through lots of play and sensory activities.
Some examples of games you could play are:
- Play object hide and seek: Play with the toy with your child, after a few minutes tell your child it is 'your turn' and then hide the toy near to the child under a blanket. Encourage your child to find the hidden toy!
- Lots of noisy toys and moving toys - develop awareness that when the toy makes a sound/moves that they have caused that to happen.
- Play with cars / trains etc rolling them down a ramp, putting one car on at a time. You can also develop turn taking skills through this activity.
- Putting toys / objects into boxes - encouraging your child to put one object in at a time. You could also count the objects with your child.
- water play / messy play - put objects in water or messy play and encourage your child to take them out / put them in one at a time.
- Use toys to develop awareness of prepositions 'on', 'in', 'out', 'off' - e.g. Play with your child with a doll - model putting the doll 'on' a chair, verbalising to your child that that is what you are doing. After modelling, ask your child if they can put the doll 'on' the chair (if they put the doll anywhere but on the chair, just model to them again and telling them 'look, the doll is on the chair!' and restart activity.
Developing awareness of number
Sing a number song with your child, counting the objects with them at the appropriate points in the song (you could either: Count for your child and tap the number amount on their body, e.g. 5 objects = 5 taps; you could encourage your child to count either along with you or independently; or you could ask your child to answer ‘how many’ - write numbers 1 - 5 on separate pieces of paper, give your child the choice of 2 numbers and encourage them to eye gaze towards their answer.
Activities to develop number skills around the house:
- Count ingredients while cooking
- Count the stairs when walking up the stairs
- Counting bath toys at bath time
- Count how many cars you can see on your street
- Count how many dogs / trees you can see outside
Developing awareness of colour
Encourage your child to explore a range of different objects and materials of different colours. Whilst your child is exploring these things, reinforce the colour name to your child. Some activities that you and your child could do to develop colour awareness are:
- Building towers with different coloured blocks - name the colour of each of the blocks whilst building a tower. You could then encourage your child to give you the block in your chosen colour and ask them to eye point towards / reach for the block of a named colour.
- Sensory basket - Fill a box or basket with different coloured materials. Encourage your child to pull materials out of the basket one at a time and then explore each material individually with your child. Name the different colours whilst your child is exploring the material.
- Messy play - Explore different messy play materials in different colours with your child, reinforcing the colour name with your child. Some examples are: Coloured rice (rice mixed with paint), bowls of coloured water, shaving foam mixed with paint and coloured pasta.
- Painting with coloured spaghetti - This activity can get a little messy! Mix cooked spaghetti with two or three different coloured paints. Encourage your child to use the spaghetti and paint to make marks onto paper. Encourage your child to observe what happens when the different colours mix together.
- Making playdough - Experiment making different coloured playdough with your child! See below for a good link for a playdough recipe!
- Colour sorting - Have ready a selection of different objects in two or three different colours, and then have card or bowls in the corresponding colours. Encourage your child to sort the different coloured objects to match the corresponding bowls / card (this can be done either through eye pointing towards the correct coloured bowl / card or by your child physically putting the objects into the correct bowl / card). Begin by using just two different colours and increase to three if your child is able to do this confidently.
Some nice colour stories are:
- Bear Sees Colours
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear
- Wow Said the Owl
- My Many Coloured Days
- Roald Dahls Colours
Developing awareness of shape
Encourage your child to explore the feel of different 2D and 3D shapes. They can feel the corners and sides of the shapes with their hands and they can explore moving / rolling 3D shapes in different ways. When your child explores the feel of the shape, name the shape to your child (in school we have a selection of different shape songs – I have attached these for you for if you would like to sing these songs to your child when they explore their shapes). Some activities you can do to develop awareness of shape are:
- Shape matching – I have uploaded a shape matching board that you could try with your child. Print out two copies, leave one whole and then cut the shapes out of the other. Encourage your child to match the shape.
- Inset puzzles – help your child to put in or take out the puzzle pieces in an inset puzzle.
- Shape sorters – Help your child to put in the different shaped pieces into a shape sorter
- Shape hunts – Go on a shape hunt around your house! See what different shaped objects you and your child can find – name the shapes to your child and encourage them to explore the feel of the shapes.
- Hide shapes in messy play – Put together a tray of messy play (this can be as messy as you like). Hide either shapes cut out of card or different shaped objects in the tray. Help your child to find the shapes and then tell them the names of the shapes.
- Shape printing - make shape prints by either using different shaped blocks or by moulding the ends of a toilet roll tube into different shapes and then printing.
- Shape pictures - Cut different shapes out of card and then use the shapes to create a picture with your child (e.g. a house, a person)
Developing awareness of size (big and small)
You can encourage your child to develop their awareness of big and small through encouraging them to explore the feel of different objects. Choose an object that is obviously big, and then another one that is obviously small – show your child each object individually and encourage them to explore the feel of each object one at a time. Use the words ‘big’ and ‘small’ to tell your child what they are feeling.
You can link ‘big’ and ‘small’ to the theme of Christmas! Encourage your child to explore big and small presents, big and small baubles, big and small stars, big and small Santa’s (and any other Christmas themed items you might have in your house!)
If appropriate for your child, you could encourage them to identify through either reaching or eye gazing which is the ‘big’ object and which is the ‘small’ object. You can do this by holding the two objects in front of your child (make sure there is an obvious size difference) and ask them to find the ‘big’ or ‘small’. When your child makes their choice, make sure you verbally tell your child the size of the object they have chosen (e.g. yes, that is the big present! Or, good try, this is the small present).
Developing fine motor skills
You can help your child to develop their fine motors skills through play activities and through every day activities within the house.
Some activities you could try are:
- Building towers with blocks - help your child to build the tower and then knock it down!
- Putting in / taking out pipe cleaners from a colander
- Pulling ribbons / materials out of a tissue box
- Putting objects / taking out objects from a box
- Playdough – encourage squeezing and manipulating of the dough
- Pulling objects off Velcro strips