With Easter approaching (and this year it seems to be taking forever) we have been taking advantage of all the Easter themed items available to develop our mathematical thinking. I read a quote yesterday which said that to learn something new it takes between 100-200 repetitions but when it is done through play it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions. How amazing is that?! I find that when children have the opportunity to learn new facts through play it really helps to embed the concept.
Below are some of the maths games we have been playing with eggs and chicks. Some of them I have set up and others developed naturally as the children were exploring. They vary for the different abilities of each of the children so there is a range of activities from beginners through to Year 1. We also have covered concepts like patterns, recognising numbers, counting, addition and subtraction.
For each of the games I set up a tuff tray with the following items: fake grass, small coloured eggs, plastic eggs of different sizes, chicks, rabbits, sheep, shredded paper, tweezers, baskets. This was their invitation to play and then as they naturally explored the items I used questioning and extension to help them to explore the mathematical ideas. I sourced all of these items from the pound shop or Morrisons and the baskets and eggs we reused from last year.
Game 1: Colour sorting
Using the coloured eggs Megan started to sort them into different colours. Charlie also started to help and together they sorted the eggs into piles of each colour. Charlie returned to explore this concept a number of times and enjoyed hiding the eggs in the straw and then someone say a colour and he would pick out the egg of that colour.
Game 2: Making patterns
Using the small coloured eggs Isabel started to make a pattern with them. She started to make a simple two colour pattern until I challenged her to make a more complicated pattern. She loved this and started to think about the different ways she could make patterns with the colours. Megan was interested in the patterns she was making and wanted to join in. She found the concept hard, but was able to copy a pattern matching the colours underneath.
Game 3: Counting 1:1
The children used the tweezers to find the eggs hiding in the straw. They collected them in their baskets, then when all the eggs had been found they wanted to know who had the most. Isabel and Megan were able to make good estimates just by looking at them and saying who had the most or the least. I showed Megan how to put them in a line to count them reliably and touch each one as she counted it. Isabel had found quite a lot and I asked her if there was an easier way for her to count them. She looked at me blankly until I said do you always have to count in one’s? She then remembered she had been counting in 2’s at school and 5’s. She split the eggs into piles of 2 and then counted them in 2’s. We then did it in piles of 5, and then to check she wanted to count them in 1’s. Once Isabel had finished she said it was much quicker to count in 5’s and that was her favourite way to count!
Game 4: Recognising numbers
This was a game for Megan as she is very interested in numbers at the moment. I wrote numbers 1-10 on each of the plastic eggs. When she discovered this she naturally wanted to line them up and say the numbers. She put them in a line from 1-10. Then we played a game where she covered her eyes and I would take one away. Megan then guessed which number had been taken away. Once I had supported this game Isabel and Megan were able to play it on their own and Isabel extended Megan by taking away two numbers at a time.
Game 5: Matching objets to numbers
Using the eggs with the numbers on them I challenged Megan to put the correct number of chicks or eggs into each egg, e.g 3 chicks in egg number 3. This was a great game for supporting the recognition of numbers and counting 1:1. She enjoyed this and went back to it a few times across the day checking the number of objects inside each egg or picking a number, emptying it and then refilling it.
Game 6: Adding and subtracting
As the girls played they naturally talked about how many eggs they had, how many chicks they had. They played with them on the grass and as they played they naturally used words like ‘more’, ‘add’, ‘take away’, ‘none’, ‘all gone’. It is this language and the exploration of the words in play concepts that will help support addition and subtraction concepts. Isabel has a good understanding of addition and subtraction and I believe it is because she has explored the concepts in play for a number of years. As they played I supported the language and gave them ‘problems’ such as there are 6 sheep in the field eating grass and suddenly it started to rain and 2 sheep ran away to find shelter. How many are left in the field.
Game 7: Ordering by size
As we had different sized eggs and different sized chicks they naturally started talking about the ‘biggest’, ‘smallest’. Even Charlie used words like ‘big one’, ‘baby one’. Megan had a go at matching the sizes and putting all the big ones together and the small ones. Isabel wasn’t playing at this point, but if she was I would have challenged her to try to put them in order from smallest to largest.
We had the resources available to explore for five days and each day they played differently with them. Even when it was put away, the chicks, eggs and baskets were still being brought out to explore.
Lots of fun to be had, I hope you enjoy these activities with your children. Happy Easter all 🙂