Comparison/ Counting

  • Include the number sequence in everyday contexts and songs so children experience the order of the numbers (ordinality)

Cardinality (How many?)

  • Encourage children to explore the collections they make, comparing amounts and counting some of the items, emphasising the last number, e.g. 1,2,3. There are 3 leaves.
  • Use opportunities to model and encourage counting on fingers.
  • When singing number rhymes with props, draw attention to contrasting differences and changes in numbers, checking together How many now?
  • Point out the number of things whenever possible, e.g. rather than just chairs, say four chairs.
  • Encourage children to use marks to represent their mathematical ideas in role play.
  • Help children to give or get two or three items, e.g. during snack time help children to take two pieces of fruit.

Spatial Awareness

  • Encourage children to predict what they will see next on a familiar route.
  • Take everyday opportunities to use words for position and direction accompanied by gesture (e.g. in, on, inside, under, over) using equivalent terms for these in home languages through liaison with families where possible.
  • Enjoy games involving jumping, running and hiding and make very simple obstacle courses, e.g. going up and down.
  • Model your thinking when arranging things, using some position words.
  • Help children to create simple roads and rail tracks and talk about position.
  • Value children’s explorations of spaces and viewpoints and their interest in how things look different.


  • Chat about the shape of the pieces and the holes when fitting pieces into inset puzzles.
  • Model comparing two objects to see if they have the same shape in purposeful contexts.
  • Suggest choosing a particular shaped item for a purpose.
  • Model your thinking when building.


  • Talk with children about the patterns you notice around you.
  • Comment on and help children to recognise the patterns they make in their mark making, loose parts and construction.
  • Draw children’s attention to the patterns in their routines by asking what comes next.


  • Use everyday opportunities to describe everyday items and contexts using informal language of size (giant, teeny, big, little, huge, small), length (long, tall, short), weight (heavy, light) and capacity (full, empty).
  • Observe children’s problem-solving when ordering things by size, e.g. stacking cups, sensitively supporting by offering one if they are really struggling.
  • Look out for opportunities to compare things purposefully such as finding out whether a teddy will fit in a bed.
  • When children talk about their experiences at home and in the setting, use some language of time (before, later, soon, next, after, morning, afternoon, evening, night-time). 
  • In everyday activities, make a commentary about the sequence of events.
  • When sharing stories and books, draw attention to routines and time sequences within them.