The Curious Dragons
Company: Skylark Learning
Age range: 3-plus
Five learning games which nurture and develop numerical and reasoning abilities through play and fun. They have been designed to build on each other to provide progressive learning and are a ‘fun and easy’ introduction to maths.
Settings found that children were ‘really engaged’ in the games and some ‘great learning’ came from it. ‘Children didn't see it as maths,’ one tester said. ‘It was more of a fun game. They were eager to move onto the next games and have been asking to play it ever since.’ Another setting described it as a ‘great resource for any setting’. The practitioner said the box sets built on different skills and ‘everyone loved the dragon pictures’.
Company: Crown House Publishing
Age range: 3-6
Messy Maths: A Playful, Outdoor Approach for Early Years author Juliet Robertson offers a rich resource of ideas to inspire practitioners to tap into the endless supply of patterns, textures, colours and quantities of the outdoors and deepen children's understanding of maths through hands-on experience. She believes that being outside makes maths real. In the classroom environment, maths can seem disconnected from everyday reality – but real maths is really messy. Lots of outdoor play and engaging activity along the way is a must, as being outside enables connections to be made between the hands, heart and head, and lays the foundations for more complex work as children grow, develop and learn.
The testers praised the book for giving them lots of ideas to improve the outdoor maths area and described it as a ‘treasure of a book’ and a ‘must-have’ for all practitioners. One setting said, ‘It's a great resource to help support less confident staff. It's full of easy-to-follow ideas offered in clear chapters which are easy to dip into as needed. I can't wait to explore further.’
Giant Playground Counting Tree Rings
Age range: 3-plus
Counting, ordering, sorting and development of pattern can all be done on a larger outdoor scale with these giant Counting Tree Rings. The set of ten numbered tree stumps includes a central wooden rod where natural rings can be posted. Not only is this useful for developing number skills but the stumps can also be used for active outdoor challenges such as hoopla and running and trike challenges.
‘It's a fantastic resource which the children came back to time and time again,’ one tester commented. ‘We used it for ordering, counting, adding and subtracting, as well as meeting some children's need to post and rotate.’
Practitioners at another setting described the product as ‘great value for money’. One said, ‘It really encourages children's thinking and mathematical skills. It also encourages counting, number recognition and it is very interactive, allowing the children to get really involved.’
Apple Tree Maths
Company: Sport and Playbase
Age range: 3-6 years
This colourful set, aimed at three-to six year-olds, contains an apple tree along with 26 addition sums and 20 apples. The aim of the game is to match the right numbered apples to the correct sum on the tree. The sums can be changed so each time the challenge for the child is different. Settings who tested the resource liked the fact that it could be used with younger and older children and said it was ‘brilliant’ for challenging the school leavers.
Children in another setting ‘flocked’ to the game and the practitioner remarked that there were ‘plenty of sums and apples’ for a large group of children to play with at once; however, they did find that the apples didn't fit easily enough into the apertures of the board.
Wooden Frame Counting Set
Company: Yellow Door
Age range: 2-plus
These wooden trays and two-tone counting stones invite children to explore number in a very tactile and visual way. The trays can be combined to show number arrays and, with the counting stones, will help young children develop an early understanding of number bonds, patterns, addition and subtraction.
One setting, which has minimal natural resources, commented on how the children enjoyed the ‘sensory feel’ of the stones and enjoyed inserting them into each section, counting them while doing so. Other children simply had fun listening to the sounds the stones made as they filled them into the spaces.
Age range: 3-6 years
Numbermat is a physically active, story-based, numeracy programme for pre-schoolers.
Sessions with the floor mat take place with up to eight children at a time and cover EYFS numeracy topics such as number, shape, big, small, position, heavy and light. They are delivered by captivating audio stories based on the superhero Numberbugs. Each month, a new set of topic-based question cards are sent out and settings have access to new stories to take them through the numeracy adventure, either as an audio file or a script. Stickers are included for children when they complete each adventure.
As well as developing maths skills, the programme also develops confidence, communication, fine motor skills, teamwork, turn-taking and comprehension. One practitioner who evaluated the programme described it as a ‘fantastic resource suited for all ages which covers a range of maths concepts’.