Blog, Maths

April 16, 2015

Starting Primary Maths for Reception – Keeping it Fun!

I think Indi likes numbers more than I like numbers. I have always liked words, and spelling, and English, and have just quietly resigned myself to my maths education. When I see Indi’s eyes light up when we talk about a number with 6 zeros, I am amused and bemused as I just don’t get it. Thankfully, he does.

The school kindly gave us all of his exercise books and workbooks that he had completed over the two terms he was there. It is quite amazing how much ‘book work’ he has accumulated, and I understand why he sometimes came out withdrawn and muted. He must have been whacked out! We have been edging in gradually since Indi left, as I didn’t want the Easter holidays to be this void space, otherwise we may have been faced with a rebellion. So we have done lots of bits and bobs, but today was the first day we got fully involved with desk-based, board and pen and discussion-based work for more than an hour. And I didn’t dictate the length of time, we just kept going. So we’ll stick to Maths as we’re in a Maths section, though we covered a lot more….

Indi has had a lot of fun with the geometric shapes we purchased from  Amazon…
Geometric Shapes
and it is truly amazing how tessellation can involve a small child for so long! Initially the fun came from creating beautiful mosaics from the hexagons,  rhombuses and so on, but then we experimented with using the same colour pieces.

maths 7

This was his ‘honeycomb’ pattern. Learning Resources make a whole heap of amazing resources funnily enough, and even before home-schooling, a few things had found their way into the house, so now I see them as a trusted name. The tub also comes with a sheet of educational activities, including how the shapes fit within the shapes (triangles into the hexagon) which we have already explored.


This pattern was created a few days after the first, and he has as you can see, got a little more adept at mixing the shapes and seeing what fits where.  He was REALLY proud of this, and Eti got into big trouble for nudging it! The great thing with this tub is that they will have longevity. Unlike a reading scheme book, which can be consumed and spat out ready for the next set of simple sentences, this has a whole heap of potential, as it is readily accessible art, logic and maths which requires no setting up. If I was to get this tub out every three days or so, it would be played with, and he would create some beautiful pattern work, and then it would be put away for next time. If I take a picture of it, he knows his pattern will live forever, so there is no grief in breaking up the image after an hour or so. I have also used the shapes for other activities, as they work as great counting devices, and are colourful enough to represent sweets, jewels etc. They can also be drawn around!

maths 5

I also kept eldest son William’s Reception year books, and had a quick look through them recently. Most of what he covered was fairly standard and nothing that Indi can’t do, but towards the end of William’s school year he was set a few division problems. Division wouldn’t have explicity been discussed as a function, but the idea of ‘sharing’ in a practical sense had been introduced with William dividing sweeties amongst teddy bears on paper. I thought I’d re-create the problem completely physically, with teddies and ‘sweets’ which were the hexagons from the shapes tub.

The abstract idea of numbers is now embedded, and he understands the functions +, – but x and ÷ are still an enigma, though he can repeat the two times table like a parrot!

When I asked Indi to separate the sweeties so that all the teddies got a fair amount, it was really interesting. He just pushed a few towards each one, and then was happy, until I pointed out that this teddy might be a bit upset because he had got less than another teddy. So he shunted a few around, and then I showed him how we deal cards out in a games, and suggested that he did the same thing. Very soon, he was sharing like a pro. This is something that can be repeated again and again!

He enjoys using the whiteboard for abstract Maths problems. I believe these were IKEA boards, and I picked two up second-hand  from Gumtree months ago, and the other is in the loft waiting patiently for the lodge to be built. Indi is very comfortable with using his fingers for adding and subtracting numbers ‘around’ 10 (I won’t say under 10 as he can do 10 + 1, 10 +2 fairly comfortably, but the number line I printed from Twinkl Platinum resources comes in very handy, and I have stuck this on the whiteboard. The abacus is also in place, but he is resisting this at the moment. All in good time.

number board


There are the fingers in full flow! I have just bought a Maths game called ‘Be a Maths Wizard’, which I look forward to talking about next time when we get a chance to play it!