How many of us practice counting with our children once they start school?

When your children are little a lot of time is spent counting between 1 and 20. Then, once they have grasped this and can then master the next few sets of tens we tend to leave the counting alone and move onto sums and manipulation of numbers.

As a maths teacher I say count, count and count some more. Counting is the basis of the maths we learn and without this skill we can find maths difficult. A lot of children can count chronologically fairly well. But ask them to vary what they are counting and you may find that they have to think a while first. Our aim is to get your children counting confidently with whatever variations we throw at them. This will build their confidence with numbers, make maths a little more fun for them and build the foundations for good mathematics learning.

Here are some starting points for counting:

Can your child count in ones starting on different numbers (count for 20 to 30 numbers from each of these starting points)?

13

42

67

81

95

106

119

137

151

183

194

Often a child, particularly when they are just mastering numbers, can give the impression they can count in ones but ask them to count over a 'sticky point' and you may find they struggle a little. The starting points above take you over the more obvious 'sticky points'.

For the majority of children the 'sticky points' are as follows: going past the 10's number, using the 'teens' numbers and going over the 100's number.

For early elementary / primary counters then getting to 200 successfully is a fantastic achievement and you will find you should have a confident counter that can then probably count mostly successfully to 900 or thereabouts.

Once your child is in the later elementary years he / she should be confident counting in the thousands and beyond. I find at this level that once they get beyond 1000 very little counting practice is done. If your child can count beyond 1000, can they count beyond 5000, 10000, 15000, 50000, 100000, 140000? Obviously this can't be done starting at 1 but choose some different starting points and play some counting games (using some of the activities listed in the Activities post).

Alongside counting in ones it is really good to practice counting in 2's, 3's, 4's .........etc. It continues to build your childs mathematical agility and can also be lots of fun. When doing these the obvious place to start is from zero and keep it simple but once these have been mastered and your child is growing in confidence with manipulating numbers mentally then try going beyond 100, try a different starting point or try backwards.

A word of advice. If you are doing this at home and it's a new sequence or one that your child is not so good at write the sequence down for them to read as they do an activity on it. Better for them to recite it correctly and fix the correct pattern in their brain than for them to recite it incorrectly and teach their brain the wrong sequence.

I'm keeping this one short after Monday's mammoth article but will expand on some of the points here in following articles.

But for now keep counting and having fun.

### Maths Walk

Here's a fun activity to do as the weather gets a little warmer.

The basis of the activity is to go for a walk and discuss any maths that you can find along the way. This doesn't need to be a particularly long walk, we tend to walk around the garden. Or we have a short loop we can do from our house that can be good too. Basically as you go for a walk use what you see as discussion points around maths. For example, you might see some tulips / daffodils. You could ask your child to count them. You could look at several plants and add up how many flowers there are in total. Pushing it further you could find two different types of flower and work out which types has more flowers. It doesn't just have to be number work. You could spot shapes; what shape is the patio / decking? Can you see any symmetry there? Once you have spotted something to talk about ask questions, discuss and do something fun with it (take a photograph of your child imitating a shape at a shape, or holding up the same number of fingers as flowers, skip round the perimeter of a shape etc).

For each age group I have listed some questions and ideas of things that you might like to look at. Obviously everyone's garden is different and therefore questions will be different but hopefully I have given you enough ideas of how to do it that you can adapt them to your own gardens / walks. Please be careful this doesn't become a walk with lots of questions. Make it a walk with lots of conversation, discussion, questions and games. Also make sure you give your child chance to spot things / discover things without you always starting the discussion with something . I love children's minds, they are so free and open and they may surprise you and come up with some amazing facts, information or just stuff! You could try taking it in turns to ask questions and talk about what you see. This will definitely keep it a little more fun for both of you.

The level of the maths and what you discuss depends on the level of your child. Below I have detailed the level and some discussion points for the various age groups.

With Preschool children you are looking for things they will recognize, counting, shapes and maybe some simple sums. Your discussion will be quite repetitive but should be good fun. Throw in some difficult concepts too if you think they will cope and extend that learning. I've also added in some fun bits to break what could seem like an endless stream of maths.

This is going to be very similar to Pre-school. Children this age are really gaining confidence with numbers. Playing with numbers whilst outside will help to build their confidence and ability. We are looking at counting, basic number manipulations, introducing the idea of counting in 2's or 3's if you're at the top end of this level and maybe a little bit of sharing. Lots of shape work and maybe a little data collection is also worth doing with these ones.

Children this age are really starting to see numbers and develop the ability to play with them and find maths interesting and fun, if it is made interesting and fun for them. We are really playing with numbers outside with these children and taking their knowledge of shape and measure and putting it into context to consolidate that knowledge. Your child may not be able to take the concept of cm / m or Inches / feet out into the real world without a tape measure but they should be able to understand the concept of measure so can measure things in hands, bodies, arms etc. and should be able to compare and estimate heights, widths etc.

These children are pretty good an number manipulation, shape, measure within the classroom but the key skill for them with this walk is to bring their classroom knowledge outside and see if they can still do all these things out of context. If they can't let's encourage them to do it using a fun maths walk.

Enjoy your walk

The basis of the activity is to go for a walk and discuss any maths that you can find along the way. This doesn't need to be a particularly long walk, we tend to walk around the garden. Or we have a short loop we can do from our house that can be good too. Basically as you go for a walk use what you see as discussion points around maths. For example, you might see some tulips / daffodils. You could ask your child to count them. You could look at several plants and add up how many flowers there are in total. Pushing it further you could find two different types of flower and work out which types has more flowers. It doesn't just have to be number work. You could spot shapes; what shape is the patio / decking? Can you see any symmetry there? Once you have spotted something to talk about ask questions, discuss and do something fun with it (take a photograph of your child imitating a shape at a shape, or holding up the same number of fingers as flowers, skip round the perimeter of a shape etc).

For each age group I have listed some questions and ideas of things that you might like to look at. Obviously everyone's garden is different and therefore questions will be different but hopefully I have given you enough ideas of how to do it that you can adapt them to your own gardens / walks. Please be careful this doesn't become a walk with lots of questions. Make it a walk with lots of conversation, discussion, questions and games. Also make sure you give your child chance to spot things / discover things without you always starting the discussion with something . I love children's minds, they are so free and open and they may surprise you and come up with some amazing facts, information or just stuff! You could try taking it in turns to ask questions and talk about what you see. This will definitely keep it a little more fun for both of you.

The level of the maths and what you discuss depends on the level of your child. Below I have detailed the level and some discussion points for the various age groups.

**Pre-school**With Preschool children you are looking for things they will recognize, counting, shapes and maybe some simple sums. Your discussion will be quite repetitive but should be good fun. Throw in some difficult concepts too if you think they will cope and extend that learning. I've also added in some fun bits to break what could seem like an endless stream of maths.

**Trees:**How many trees can you see? Can you run and touch 3 trees? Pull down a branch (if you can) and look at the leaves; what shapes are they? Do they have and points? How many? Are the leaves tickly? Can you find any loose leaves or branches to test out how tickly they are?**Planters / Plant pots:**Look at any plant pots, what shapes are they? How many are there? Can they be rearranged to make a shape /a line / a funny pattern? What plants are in them? What shapes? How many? Compare - which planter is the biggest / smallest?**Flowers:**Can you see any flowers? What colours are they? What shapes? How many petals do they have? Are they symmetrical? (A pre-schooler may not understand this word but will understand 'the same on each side') Try putting the flowers against your hand / chin, do they change the colour of your skin?**Steps into your house:**How many steps are there into the house? What shapes are they? We have 3 steps out the back and four round the front, how many in total? Jump up and down them and count as you go. Maybe talk about double: 2 jumps down and then 2 jumps up.**Driveway:**How many giant steps does it take to walk around the driveway? How many jumps? Do both and compare, which took more, less?My daughter striding around the drive |

**Sticks:**There are always sticks or leaves lying around. Gather a pile and make a visual sum. Lie three next to each other and then 2 next to each other a little way apart from the first pile. Count the two piles separately, put them together and then count again to see how many you have altogether. This could be extended to subtraction: have a pile of 5 sticks, together take 2 away and count how many are left.**Fences / Railings:**Can you see any picket fences / railings? Look at how they are made? Are they made from posts? Which direction do the posts go in? Can you count 8 posts? How many posts can you count? Let's count some together?**Houses / Buildings:**Look at your house. What shapes can be seen on your house? Look at the windows? Is there a triangle up by the roof as it slopes down either side? How many windows are there? Can you see any interesting shapes?**Visual representation:**Can you find anything that represents a number or sum in maths? For example are there 3 sticks just lying around? Then you've found 3.**5, 6 and 7 year olds**This is going to be very similar to Pre-school. Children this age are really gaining confidence with numbers. Playing with numbers whilst outside will help to build their confidence and ability. We are looking at counting, basic number manipulations, introducing the idea of counting in 2's or 3's if you're at the top end of this level and maybe a little bit of sharing. Lots of shape work and maybe a little data collection is also worth doing with these ones.

**Trees:**How many trees can you see? Can you run and touch 5 trees? Are all the trees the same type? How many of each type? Which one is the most common / least common? Which is the tallest / shortest tree? Which tree looks like it has the most leaves? Pull down a branch (if you can) and look at the leaves; what shapes are they? Do they have and points? How many? Are the leaves tickly? Can you find any loose leaves or branches to test out how tickly they are?**Planters / Plant pots / Flower beds:**Look at any plant pots, what shapes are they? How many are there? Can they be rearranged to make a shape /a line / a funny pattern? What plants are in them? What shapes? How many? Compare - which planter is the biggest / smallest? How many plants / flowers are in them in total?**Flowers:**Can you see any flowers? What colours are they? What shapes? How many petals do they have? Are they symmetrical? (Your child may not understand this word but will understand 'the same on each side') How many flowers in total in the garden / a section of the garden? Which type of flower is the most common? Are the flowers bigger or smaller than your hand? Is there another body part they can be compared to? Try putting the flowers against your hand / chin, do they change the colour of your skin?**Steps into your house:**How many steps are there into the house? What shapes are they? We have 3 steps out the back and four round the front, how many in total? Jump up and down them and count as you go. Maybe talk about double: 2 jumps down and then 2 jumps up. Or count as you walk up the steps. You could count in ones, two's or threes.**Driveway:**How many giant steps does it take to walk around the driveway? How many jumps? Do both and compare, which took more, less?**Sticks:**There are always sticks or leaves lying around. Gather a pile and make a visual sum. Lie 10 next to each other and then 2 next to each other a little way apart from the first pile. Count the two piles separately, put them together and then count again to see how many you have altogether. This could be extended to subtraction: have a pile of 15 sticks, together take 2 away and count how many are left. You could also do some counting in two's with sticks. Make lots of piles of two and count. If you're child is doing well with this push the language a little. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, how many lots of two did we just count?**Fences / Railings:**Can you see any picket fences / railings? Look at how they are made? Are they made from posts? Which direction do the posts go in? Can you count 8 posts? How many posts can you count? Let's count some together? How tall is the fence? Stand child next to it - is it taller than you or shorter than you? How many hands tall is the fence? (use childs hands to measure the fence)**Houses / Buildings:**Look at your house. What shapes can be seen on your house? Look at the windows? Is there a triangle up by the roof as it slopes down either side? How many windows are there? Can you see any interesting shapes? Is there any symmetry?**Visual representation:**Can you find anything that represents a number or sum in maths? For example are there 3 sticks just lying around? Then you've found 3.**7, 8 and 9 year olds**Children this age are really starting to see numbers and develop the ability to play with them and find maths interesting and fun, if it is made interesting and fun for them. We are really playing with numbers outside with these children and taking their knowledge of shape and measure and putting it into context to consolidate that knowledge. Your child may not be able to take the concept of cm / m or Inches / feet out into the real world without a tape measure but they should be able to understand the concept of measure so can measure things in hands, bodies, arms etc. and should be able to compare and estimate heights, widths etc.

**Trees:**Are all the trees the same type? How many of each type? Which one is the most common / least common? Which is the tallest / shortest tree? Which tree looks like it has the most leaves? Pull down a branch (if you can) and look at the leaves; what shapes are they? Do they have and points? How many? Are the leaves tickly? Can you find any loose leaves or branches to test out how tickly they are? How tall do you think the tree is? Taller than one person? 2 people?**Planters / Plant pots / Flower beds:**Look at any plant pots, what shapes are they? How many are there? Can they be rearranged to make a shape /a line / a funny pattern? What plants are in them? What shapes? How many? Compare - which planter is the biggest / smallest? How many plants / flowers are in them in total?**Flowers:**Can you see any flowers? What colours are they? What shapes? How many petals do they have? Are they symmetrical? How many flowers in total in the garden / a section of the garden? Which type of flower is the most common? Are the flowers bigger or smaller than your hand? Is there another body part they can be compared to? How tall do you think the stems on the flowers are? Are they taller than your forearm? Whole arm? Try putting the flowers against your hand / chin, do they change the colour of your skin?**Driveway:**How many giant steps / pidgeon steps does it take to walk around the driveway? Can your child make an estimate first? Do both and compare, which took more, less? How long do you think the driveway is? What shapes is the driveway made out of?**Sticks:**There are always sticks or leaves lying around. Gather a pile and make a visual sum. Lie 16 next to each other and then 12 next to each other a little way apart from the first pile. Count the two piles separately, put them together and then count again to see how many you have altogether. This could be extended to subtraction: have a pile of 21 sticks, together take 14 away and count how many are left. If you wanted to talk multiplication you could lay out an 'array' This is basically a square / rectangle made of sticks with rows and columns. For example lay out a row of 5 sticks, then add another row directly underneath and another and another. This should look like a 5 x 4 rectangle. Once you have done this talk about it with your child, how may rows? How many columns? How many sticks in total? They may even be able to understand that this shows the multiplication sum 4 x 5 = 20.A array representing 3x3 |

**Fences / Railings:**Can you see any picket fences / railings? Look at how they are made? Are they made from posts? Which direction do the posts go in? How many posts can you count? Let's count some together? How tall is the fence? Stand child next to it - is it taller than you or shorter than you? How many hands tall is the fence? (use childs hands to measure the fence)**Houses / Buildings:**Look at your house. What shapes can be seen on your house? Look at the windows? Is there a triangle up by the roof as it slopes down either side? How many windows are there? Can you see any interesting shapes? Is there any symmetry? How many different shapes can you see in the house? Can you see any 3D shapes or just 2D?**Visual representation:**Can you find anything that represents a number or sum in maths? For example are there 3 sticks just lying around? Then you've found 3. Maybe you can see three planters next to one bucket; you've found the sum 3+1. What else can you find?**9, 10 and 11 year olds**These children are pretty good an number manipulation, shape, measure within the classroom but the key skill for them with this walk is to bring their classroom knowledge outside and see if they can still do all these things out of context. If they can't let's encourage them to do it using a fun maths walk.

**Trees:**Are all the trees the same type? How many of each type? Which one is the most common / least common? Which is the tallest / shortest tree? Which tree looks like it has the most leaves? Pull down a branch (if you can) and look at the leaves; what shapes are they? Do they have and points? How many? Are the leaves tickly? Can you find any loose leaves or branches to test out how tickly they are? How tall do you think the tree is? Estimate using proper units.**Planters / Plant pots / Flower beds:**Look at any plant pots, what shapes are they? How many are there? Can they be rearranged to make a shape /a line / a funny pattern? What plants are in them? What shapes? How many? Compare - which planter is the biggest / smallest? How many plants / flowers are in them in total? How high are the planters (in units)? If we stacked them all on top of each other how tall do you think our tower would be? Is there an empty one? How many buckets of water do you think would fill it? Try it and see if you were right?**Flowers:**Can you see any flowers? What colours are they? What shapes? How many petals do they have? Are they symmetrical? How many flowers in total in the garden / a section of the garden? Which type of flower is the most common? Are the flowers bigger or smaller than your hand? Is there another body part they can be compared to? How tall do you think the stems on the flowers are? Try putting the flowers against your hand / chin, do they change the colour of your skin?**Driveway:**How many giant steps / pidgeon steps does it take to walk around the driveway? Do both and compare, which took more, less? How long do you think the driveway is? What shapes is the driveway made out of?**Sticks:**There are always sticks or leaves lying around. Gather a pile and make a visual sum. Lie 16 next to each other and then 12 next to each other a little way apart from the first pile. Count the two piles separately, put them together and then count again to see how many you have altogether. This could be extended to subtraction: have a pile of 21 sticks, together take 14 away and count how many are left. It would be fun to lay out an 'array' This is basically a square / rectangle made of sticks with rows and columns. For example lay out a row of 5 sticks, then add another row directly underneath and another and another. This should look like a 5 x 4 rectangle. Once you have done this talk about it with your child, how may rows? How many columns? How many sticks in total? Mention that this is a pictorial way of showing the multiplication sum 4 x 5 = 20.**Fences / Railings:**Can you see any picket fences / railings? Look at how they are made? Are they made from posts? Which direction do the posts go in? How many posts can you count? Let's count some together? How tall do you think the fence is? Stand child next to it - is it taller than you or shorter than you? You stand next to the fence and ask child to stand 10 meters (or another amount in a different unit) further down the fence. Can they estimate that far?**Houses / Buildings:**Look at your house. What numbers can you read on the houses? Can you add two or three house numbers together? What shapes can be seen on your house? Look at the windows? Is there a triangle up by the roof as it slopes down either side? How many windows are there? Can you see any interesting shapes? Is there any symmetry? How many different shapes can you see in the house? Can you see any 3D shapes or just 2D?We found lots of shapes within our climbing frame |

**Visual representation:**Can you find anything that represents a number or sum in maths? For example are there 3 sticks just lying around? Then you've found 3. You might notice that a patio is a square made up of square slabs that show the array 9x9 and therefore a multiplication. What else can you find?Enjoy your walk

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