Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

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Cranborne Road, Newbold, Chesterfield, S41 8PF

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Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

  1. About Us
  2. EYFS
  3. EYFS Areas of Learning
  4. Maths in EYFS

Maths in EYFS

Maths is one of the four specific areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 

The EYFS, Development Matters, states that

"Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers.

By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding – such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. 

In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures.

It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes."


3 and 4-year-olds will be learning to:


  • Develop fast recognition of up to 3 objects, without having to count them individually (‘subitising’).
  • Recite numbers past 5.
  • Say one number for each item in order: 1,2,3,4,5.
  • Know that the last number reached when counting a small set of objects tells you how many there are in total (‘cardinal principle’).
  • Show ‘finger numbers’ up to 5.
  • Link numerals and amounts: for example, showing the right number of objects to match the numeral, up to 5.
  • Experiment with their own symbols and marks as well as numerals.
  • Solve real world mathematical problems with numbers up to 5.
  • Compare quantities using language: ‘more than’, ‘fewer than’.
  • Talk about and explore 2D and 3D shapes (for example, circles, rectangles, triangles and cuboids) using informal and mathematical language: ‘sides’, ‘corners’; ‘straight’, ‘flat’, ‘round’.
  • Understand position through words alone – for example, “The bag is under the table,” – with no pointing.
  • Describe a familiar route.
  • Discuss routes and locations, using words like ‘in front of’ and ‘behind’.
  • Make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity.
  • Select shapes appropriately: flat surfaces for building, a triangular prism for a roof, etc.
  • Combine shapes to make new ones – an arch, a bigger triangle, etc.
  • Talk about and identify the patterns around them. For example: stripes on clothes, designs on rugs and wallpaper. Use informal language like ‘pointy’, ‘spotty’, ‘blobs’, etc.
  • Extend and create ABAB patterns – stick, leaf, stick, leaf.
  • Notice and correct an error in a repeating pattern.
  • Begin to describe a sequence of events, real or fictional, using words such as ‘first’, ‘then...'


Children in reception will be learning to: 

  • Count objects, actions and sounds.
  • Subitise.
  • Link the number symbol (numeral) with its cardinal number value.
  • Count beyond ten.
  • Compare numbers.
  • Understand the ‘one more than/one less than’ relationship between consecutive numbers.
  • Explore the composition of numbers to 10.
  • Automatically recall number bonds for numbers 0–5 and some to 10.
  • Select, rotate and manipulate shapes to develop spatial reasoning skills.
  • Compose and decompose shapes so that children recognise a shape can have other shapes within it, just as numbers can.
  • Continue, copy and create repeating patterns.
  • Compare length, weight and capacity.


In Nursery there is a strong focus on counting and understanding of numbers to five. Our continuous provision areas are carefully planned to give children frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding whilst enjoying themselves. Children also have rich opportunities to explore shape, space and measure and develop their reasoning skills.

Our skilled staff interact effectively with the children to encourage them to look for patterns, spot connections and talk about what they notice

Long term plan for Maths in Nursery

Each specific area has Early Learning Goals, which the children are working towards in their Reception year. For maths these are:

Number: - 

Children at the expected level of development will:
- Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number;
- Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5;
- Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.

Numerical Patterns: - 

Children at the expected level of development will:
- Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system;
- Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity;
- Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.


As with all other areas of learning, the teaching and learning of mathematics in our EYFS takes place both inside and outside through a wide range of practical and "hands on" activities. All our maths sessions use practical resources so we can utilise the concrete/pictorial/abstract CPA approach. We also conduct maths sessions outside using active maths as our children learn well when they are moving and playing.

We use the White Rose Maths Scheme to support our teaching, and maths is taught through stories, practical fun activities, games and play. 

Teachers use their knowledge and expertise to plan for a high quality leaning environment which provides children with lots of opportunities to explore different aspects of number and numerical patterns and learn new concepts. The children have a wide range of continuous provision to support mathematical play. For example, children may learn about capacity through their water play, both indoors and outdoors. In addition to the opportunities for child initiated play, staff also plan adult led activities for groups of children and individuals based on their observations of what children know and can do. They plan activities to address any misconceptions that have arisen and to introduce new concepts. 

Through adult led activities the children are introduced to an range of visual representations to help them understand a concept.



We are embed subitising in maths throughout all sessions. The approach White Rose Maths uses is that children learn that all numbers are made up of smaller units. We utilise subitising to allow children to group units to count them quicker and be more adaptable to manipulating numbers.

Subitising is recognising how many objects are present by sight. A short video here explains the importance of subitising in early maths. 

A longer video here shows you how to support subitising in the early years at home




We use Numicon as a concrete resource to teach number and place value. Numicon helps children to visualise numbers. The different coloured Numicon shapes represent different numbers. Numicon is multi-sensory. Children can touch as well as see the numbers, from this visual picture they are able to see how we can add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers and the relationship between them. Numicon  allows children to 'see' number, make connections, see patterns and show what they are explaining giving children a deeper understanding of number.


We introduce visual representations;


10 frame - 

We introduce 5 and 10 frames very early on to support children to organise their items to count them more easily, and to help subitise as well as start to see number bonds early on.


Part, part whole 



We use story books to introduce certain aspects of maths, such as positional language using Rosie’s Walk or sharing using The Doorbell Rang. Children in our class love stories and using stories and pictures help embed their learning.

As well as the taught sessions we also use the continuous provision to embed and practice these maths skills. Although we have a dedicated area in our class for our maths resources and a maths working wall to show the skills we are working on, maths happens everywhere in our setting. We also have a maths shed outside to allow the children to know where to go when they need specific resources such as measuring tapes or weighing scales.

When we see children playing freely we like to inject the 3 M’s into their play whenever we can see an opportunity. The 3 Ms are mark-making, making conversation and of course maths!

  • We may see a child making a playdough pizza, we can ask them if they can cut it into half, or can they share it between 4 people?
  • If they are pretending to be in the shop, we introduce money and price labels.
  • If they are playing with the cars and the ramps, we may ask them to think about how they can measure how far the cars go, which goes furthest etc.
  • Scoring systems are used in football and ball games as well as numbered targets. 

As part of our daily routine we always:

  • Talk about the day and date – children learn to count up, use one more, one less when working out the dates for today, yesterday and tomorrow.
  • We vote for a class book each day using our own named pegs. We then look at the baskets to estimate which we think has more, then we count the pegs to check
  • We work out how many children are having sandwiches by counting hands put up
  • We look at the spaces on the carpet and work out how many children are missing and as the year progresses we use the 10 frames with counters to work out how many children are in
  • As we line up for lunch we count up in a line starting with the 1st child saying 1; 2nd saying 2 etc; They are developing their listening skills as well as their ordinal position.
  • We use number rhymes throughout the week (with props) to help the children to count up and backwards as well as work out 1 more or one less



Some of our maths in our Continuous Provision....

Maths at home

Activities for your child at home

The following section is designed to get your child thinking about mathematics and problem solving. It contains a range of practical ideas which you can easily try in your home and when you are out and about.

  • Look at numbers on birthday cards.
  • Count the numbers on a clock face.
  • Play games involving numbers such as snakes and ladders, dominoes.
  • Look at numbers in the environment such as front door numbers, buses, football shirts, tickets.
  • Go on a number hunt, can you be the first to spot a number 5? 
  • On car journeys, count how many lorries or red cars you can see etc.
  • Hopscotch games, target games etc in the garden using numbers up to 10. 
  • Use shopping trips as an opportunity for learning, have a shopping list for the child to follow with numbers of items you need on, e.g. 2 cans of baked beans. What numbers can they see on their way around the shops? Can they weigh out fruit and vegetables? Can they pay for something with money? 
  • Discuss and name the shapes of the boxes and tins when unpacking the shopping.
  • Can you see any shapes on your walks? Bricks / windows / gates / doors / wheels etc - which ones can you name? 
  • Baking- measure out the ingredients and read the numbers on the recipe, scales and jug.
  • Compare the weight of two items in your cupboard. Which one is the heaviest?
  • Compare the length of two carrots. Who has the longest? Who has the shortest carrot?
  • Sort the knives, forks and spoons in the cutlery drawer. Lay the table in the correct order.
  • Buy a packet of sweets containing different colours and sort them by colour or size.
  • Help with the washing, can they pair up socks? Count how many t-shirts they have? 
  • Race your family at the park, who can run to the end of the park quickest? Can you time it? 

 Why not go on a subitising walk? Look out for items and see if you can work out how many there are by sight. 

NCETM is a free website that offers information about each area of maths. It also has links to Numberblocks episodes and resources. Within our maths sessions we use Numberblocks to help children to understand some aspects of maths, e.g. how each number is made up of smaller blocks/units. 


National Numeracy is a website that supports adults and children with their maths. If you want to develop your own numeracy confidence you can visit here for support. There are also resources for your children too. 


Always remember maths is fun and the activities should be enjoyable for all. 

Last update: 2024-06-19