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20 October 2014
Schools  >> All subjects for ages 4 - 11 years
Number Time
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Things to do at home

Before s/he starts school

Before your child starts school, help them to feel confident with numbers by talking about them and using them during every day experiences.
  • Count as many things as you can: the number of buttons as you fasten them, the number of fingers as you put on gloves, the number of socks as you put them in the washing machine or the number of place settings at a table
  • Sing number nursery songs and rhymes as you are sitting in a traffic jam, walking to the shops etc. Many number songs such as Five Little Ducks or Ten Green Bottles, start with a number and count backwards. Some rhymes count in a forward sequence; a favourite example is '1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive'
  • Use bedtime picture story books as a source of counting practice. Ask your child to help you to count, for example, the number of teddies in a picture. When objects are in a line, encourage the habit of counting from left to right
  • Count actions as you clap, stamp, wiggle fingers or climb stairs. This is very helpful in teaching children to say one count for each action
  • When you count things, help your child to see that the last counting word you say tells you how many things there were. Do this by emphasising the last number you say: "one, two, three, four. There are four teddies.'

Once school has started

Once your child is at school s/he will be concentrating even more on the early skills of recognising numbers and counting.
  • Help your child to learn to recognise all the numerals from 1 to 9. Point out numbers you see in everyday activities, such as numbers on packets or prices, car number plates, house or bus numbers.

  • Introduce zero, (0) as a way of describing nothing or none
  • Explain that there are no new numbers used when we want to write the number ten, but we use a '1' and a '0' together.

  • Make a collection of ten shells, buttons or pasta shapes. Choose a number between one and ten and ask your child to find that number of objects
  • Use ordinary playing cards to develop the skills of counting and recognising numbers. Help your child to:
play simple games such as snap,
count the symbols on the number cards,
sort the cards into order,
find all the tens, fours etc.

Other games and activities

Games to practise addition and subtraction
  • Playing skittles
    Make a set of skittles using ten cardboard tubes which can be knocked over with a soft ball. After each throw talk about the score:
    There were ten skittles and we knocked over 6. There are 4 left standing up. 6 and 4 make 10.
  • Make a target game
    Place three or four empty boxes in the floor. Label each box with a number between 1 and 5. Encourage your child to help you to make up rules for the game. How many paper balls can you throw in a turn? How many does the winner of the game need to score altogether?
  • Play a hidden objects game
    This game is a good way of developing the skills your child will need in doing sums 'in their head'. It helps child to imagine numbers of objects.

    Place five small objects on a tray; buttons, coins, counters or pebbles etc.
    Show your child that there are five objects and count them together. Now cover the objects with a cloth and slide your hand under the cloth to remove one or two of the objects from the tray. Show your child how many objects you have removed and ask:

    'How many things are left on the tray?'

    As your child becomes more confident, start with a larger of objects on the tray. Once the tray is empty replace the objects a few at a time, again by putting your hand under the cover. After each addition ask your child to think how many objects are now on the tray.

  • Guess my number
    This is a useful game for playing on a journey. As your child plays the game they will practise thinking about the order of numbers.
    Start the game by saying to your child ' I am thinking of a number between 1 and 10'. Explain that the aim of the game is to guess the mystery number by asking questions and that you will only answer 'yes' or 'no'.
    Children soon learn that it is more useful to ask "Is the number bigger than 5?" than to ask 'Is it 7?" Older children can progress to guessing mystery numbers up to 100, and by Year 2 they should be able to use questions such as :
    'Is it an odd number?'
    'Is the number a multiple of 10?' (e.g. 20, 30, 40)
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