Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Playfully becoming the Mathematicians of tomorrow


Tuesday 18 October 2016

It's that time of the year again… Maths Week has arrived. Last year, Maths Week Ireland engaged well over a quarter of a million people. What an accomplishment! Children from all corners of Ireland celebrated their passion for learning maths. As early year educators we all know that it is not a time to sit children down and formally ‘teach’ them maths, but that’s not to say for a second that children’s mathematical minds are not flourishing rapidly throughout their daily play. Mathematical concepts are experimented with and explored by children or even babies at a level so deep during play that it becomes more than merely learning a subject. It becomes a meaningful relationship that will in turn impact on their future learning of all things mathematical.


Below we see children rolling tyres - would flashcards with a circle on it have the same learning for those boys as rolling a tyre? This photo alone demonstrates many concepts such as shapes, rolling, speed, accuracy and even figuring out the equation of movements that need to be managed in order to roll the tyre and get results. The children in the other photograph are naturally forming a line and using all the muscles in their bodies not to fall off, gaining again a meaningful understanding of balance. Learning happens as much in the body as it does in the head. These children are developing a strong embodied sense of maths and without this embodied sense, maths in the head would never make sense. The body is where their intuitive sense of mathematical concepts comes from and this is why active play is the really important. Isn’t it wonderful to think that these children choose this play and that the process of learning maths can come so naturally when children are afforded the time, space and freedom to make their own meaningful choices to play.


Our role as the educators or parents is to truly know our place in the children’s play and celebrate it. If rich play is taking place, let the children get on with it and try not to interrupt or question it as it may be just reaching the most powerful part. You can say what you see in the moment (“look at those lovely parallel lines that you’re drawing’’) or you can talk to them later about it. They may not know it but they could just be about to gain a true understanding of huge concepts such as parallel lines, volumes and weights, or what happens when an equation pans out and a result is found (see photos below).


Play happens day by day in early childhood services. We have all witnessed babies exploring their voices by demonstrating varying pitches or their inborn, natural sense of rhythm. We have all witnessed children playing shop and expressing their mathematical lingo/language in conversations about costs, money, sorting and quantities. These are all everyday occurrences in the early years - magical moments! These are all provided through a recipe of a freedom to play and explore mixed nicely with the children’s inquisitive nature that lays the foundations so discreetly for our future mathematicians.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Story(1) Environment(2) Santa(2) research(5) planning(1) Death(1) social media(1) story time(1) Seas Suas(1) Little Buddies(1) Learning Stories(7) friendships(1) parents(5) Workplace Relations(3) outdoor play(6) Aistear(103) Smiles(1) Window(1) Winter(1) Early Years Educators(1) grandchild(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Performance Management(1) communication(4) experience(1) Exploring(1) Through the looking glass(1) Awards 2018(3) dining experiences(1) Arlene Forster(1) Dance(1) UD(1) Treasure Chest(1) Sequins(1) Budget 2019(2) Communications(1) Snakes(1) Communicating(1) Interests(1) Gardening(1) development(8) STEM(2) Thanks(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Early Years(1) Well-Being(6) Leprechauns(1) Trade Unions(1) UN(1) Exclusion(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Sustainable(1) Scéalta Blog(78) Employee(1) MECPI(1) Socioemotional development(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) early childhood educator(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Online(1) Academic Skills(1) CPD(1) Vertical grouping(1) emotions(2) animals(2) Masterclass(2) Universal Design(2) maternity health(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Wrapping paper(1) Mixed age groups(2) DCYA(4) routine(2) Party(1) Arts(1) Mo Scéal(1) Academics(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Photographs(1) Degree(1) Maths(4) Relaxation(1) scéalta(25) Grief(1) Recycle(1) community(5) Italy(1) mushrooms(1) Blocks(1) Norway(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) risk(2) learning(15) play stories(1) Advocacy(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Technology(2) Care routines(1) overhear(1) PIP(1) Wesco(1) Awards 2019(1) RIE philosphy(1) role playing(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) ECCE(6) documentation(2) Event Guide(1) Trade union(1) Kilkenny(1) San Minia(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Names(1) Orla Kenny(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Malaguzzi(1) Gratitude(1) Creativity(4) NCCA(2) Trigonometry(1) Spiders(1) Valentine's Day(3) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) respect(4) Positivity(1) Independence(1) dining(1) ReCreate(2) Care-giving routines(1) Builders(1) Mathematicians(1) Workforce(1) Rituals(1) Light table(1) Shapes(1) Funding(1) Change(1) Yoga(1) educating(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Qualifications(1) Twitter(1) interacting(2) Afghanistan(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Kerry(1) Research Seminar(1) Inter-generational(1) Queues(1) Sculptures(1) Jenga(1) dublin(2) Magda Gerber(1) Mayo(1) Imagination(3) education(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Ceremony(1) journey(1) Quality(3) Line-ups(1) Mindfulness(2) Reggio Children Network(1) Policy(2) Behaviour(3) Weather(1) Celebrations(4) Halloween(2) Educators(1) Iraq(1) Eritrea(1) Kids Own(1) Engineers Week(2) Emergent Curriculum(1) Frustrations(1) outdoors(3) Sweets(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Giraffe(2) Buddy Bench(1) Reggio(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Treasure(1) ECEC(1) Touch(1) Our Little Seed(1) Children's Rights(1) Flowers(1) Challenges(1) NAEYC(1) Self Help Skills(1) Albert Einstein(1) Celebrate(1) Art(6) Mount Everest(1) University(1) Performing(1) Obesity(1) transitions(9) Meal time(1) Decision Making(1) early years research(1) Craft(1) Painting(1) AIM(2) Maria Montessori(1) conversations(1) environments(1) AsIAm(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Siolta blog(2) Tuscan Approach(2) Love(2) risky play(2) Pobal(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Thank you(1) Supernanny(1) Budget 2018(1) Visual Impairment(1) reading(4) listen(1) Oireachtas(1) Storytelling(2) Recycling(2) curriculum(5) Mealtimes(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Teamwork(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Sport(1) Diversity(1) Wendy Lee(2) Graduation(1) Wilenski(1) Loss(1) emotional environment(1) ERASMUS+(3) Role play(1) Anxiety(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Time Out(1) Identity(4) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Feeding(1) curiosity(3) Map(1) Irish(1) UNCRC(1) Childhood(1) outdoor space(3) Mud kitchens(1) Workplace well-being(1) United Nations(1) Competent(1) Vietnam(1) Scents(1) Trick or treat(1) Culture(2) Nutrition(1) meals(3) The Jelly King(1) risk assessment(1) Drawing(2) IGL(1) Glitter(2) Sustainability(3) Adoption(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) CIT(1) blog(28) TOY Programme(1) Playdough(1) Breathing(2) Self-regulation(1) Interactions(1) Limerick(1) play(29) Aldo Fortunati(4) Traditions(2) Margy Whalley(1) Xbox(1) Certificate(1) Síolta QAP(1) Learning journals(1) trust(2) Facebook(1) ICBN(1) Autism(3) bonds(1) Maynooth(1) Mental Health(3) stories(2) baby room(1) babies(6) Meet the Members(1) Self-Esteem(1) Exercise(1) Laughter(1) dogs(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) supportive environments(1) refugees(1) Decisions(1) GDPR(1) Creative(1) Inspirational(2) Mantra(1) Maternity Leave(1) Community involvement(1) Cork(1) Wonder(1) christmas(8) Buddies(1) Biting(1) Prexit(1) Plastic(1) Horizon 2020(1) College(1) Snacks(1) Arithmetic(1) Awards(2) Investment(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Easter(1) feisty(1) budget(1) Settling in(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Maths Week(1) Running(1) memories(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Routines(1) Family(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Pen green(1) Síolta(98) Games(1) Syria(1) food(1) Graduate(1) Japan(1) Favouritism(1) Lego(2) preschool(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) pets(1) Inclusion(3) Primary School(2) Titles(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Learning Story(1) Design(1) Engineering(2) Administrative Burden(1) Body Language(1) Social Skills(1) Empathy(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Professionalisation(4) Magnavacchi(1) Book Club(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Maynooth University(1) Fabric(1) worries(1) Time(1) EECERA 2016(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Training(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) Children's Research Network(1) science week(2) Magic(1) San Miniato(4) First 5(1) First 5 strategy(1) Child mental health(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Laugh(1) National Holiday(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Upcycling(1) Nonverbal(1) Patterns(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Bereavement(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Cognitive development(1) ears(1) Children(1) linc(1) EM Standing(1) Health(1) books(4) Potential(1) eating(1) under 3's(3) toddlers(3) Montessori(2) Thinking(1) Belonging(3) National Awards 2018(2) Childcare(2) Fantasy play(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Home Corner(1) Brain(1) Traffic Lights(1) National Awards 2019(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) educarer(1) Nuturing interactions(1) science(3) MA(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Shoes(1) INTO(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Mark Twain(1) Playschool(1) Penguins(1) SPICE Framework(1) Affordability(1) child-centred approach(1) relationships(12) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Interaction(1) Capable(1) Family wall(1) Appreciation(1) Plants(1) Visitors(1) Consent(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Confident(1) Exit interview(1) Impact(1) Snack Time(1) listening(1) Leargas(1) Stress(2) Music(3)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine