• Encourage children to share items between two people or toys.


  • Capitalise on children’s fascination with counting  by joining in when they count in games.
  • Enjoy counting forwards and back (sometimes to much higher numbers). Use different voices, e.g. high or growly.
  • Use opportunities within daily routines to support children’s developing sense of number.
  • Model and encourage counting and representing numbers within role play, e.g. making a telephone call using a list of numbers.
  • Value children’s own mathematical representations within their pretend play.


  • When counting with children, playfully make deliberate mistakes for fun, expecting children to correct them.
  • Model writing numerals, e.g. on badges, birthday cards and banners.
  • When counting objects with children emphasise the cardinal principle: 1, 2, 3, there are three cups.
  • Invite children to count out a number of things from a larger group, e.g. Can you get five crackers?
  • Encourage children to use their fingers to show an amount  e.g. when asking another child to share resources, to show on their fingers how many they need.
  • Emphasise the one more, one less pattern in rhymes and traditional tales, asking children to predict the next number.
  • Model wondering and talking about how you might solve a number problem.
  • Value and support children to use their own graphics when problem solving.

Spatial Awareness

  • When children are exploring, use the language of position and direction in context (in, on, inside, under, over, progressing to between, beside, next to  through, along, including relative terms which depend on where you are, e.g. behind, in front of, forwards, backwards) using equivalent terms for these in home languages through liaison with families where possible.
  • On walks, in pictures or while playing, point out how things or people that are far away look smaller.
  • Support children in their problem solving when they are creating rail tracks and road layouts. 
  • In block play, sensitively support and challenge experienced builders to make bridges and enclosures.
  • Encourage children to persevere with jigsaws, perhaps demonstrating “hovering” jigsaw pieces to check if they will fit.


  • Help children to choose shapes for a purpose, e.g. a triangular block for a roof and the wedge-shaped block for a ramp.
  • Offer an appropriate or inappropriate shape for what you think the child’s purpose might be to investigate their thinking.
  • As children experience shapes, use informal language (e.g. slanty, pointy, twisty, wiggly, bumpy), common shape names (e.g. cylinder, cone, circle, square) and “nearly” shapes (e.g. This is almost a square but it’s got curvy corners). Find out and use equivalent terms for shapes in home languages.
  • Discuss how shapes can be partitioned in everyday contexts, e.g. cutting food in different ways.
  • Value children’s constructions and solutions to problems they have set themselves and talk about how the shapes have combined to make new shapes.


  • Whilst playing alongside children, model simple repeating patterns of two or three items and encourage children to create and continue patterns.
  • Demonstrate arranging objects in spatial patterns when building, collaging or playing with loose parts.
  • Draw children’s attention to patterns around them including from a range of cultures.
  • When making patterns, help children to solve problems.


  • During play, model comparing lengths and distances.
  • Look out for meaningful opportunities for children to compare by length, weight, capacity and time using comparative language (longer/shorter, heavier/lighter, holds more/holds less, longer time/shorter time).
  • Encourage children to participate in seesaw and balance scale play.
  • Encourage children to respond to and use words such as before, after, soon or later when talking about routines, recent events and events in a story or rhyme.