Early Years Foundation Stage Activities

Welcome to our set of EYFS resources. We have designed these, in partnership with our Early Years practitioner partners*, to support you in developing the initial building blocks for mathematical thinking, reasoning and problem solving with your children. We know how crucial these building blocks are to children’s later success in mathematics. All these resources link to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

Each of them has:

• suggestions of rich contexts for exploring mathematical ideas and developing mathematical skills and concepts
• details of linked mathematics learning goals
• descriptions of the mathematical journey that the learners may take through the task
• suggestions for prompts and questions to elicit mathematical responses from the children.

Each resource starts with an activity that children enjoy and suggests how, as adults, we might work with the children to maximise its mathematical potential.  For more information on using these resources to embed problem solving in your setting, please see our article Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years.

In addition to the mathematical opportunities we offer, you may like to make your own, rich connections to other learning goals from other areas of learning that these resources can facilitate.

The production of these resources has been made possible by generous financial support from The Ernest Cook Trust and Higher Education Innovation Funding.

Recently Published

Using Books

The Doorbell Rang is a lovely book to share with children and will provoke some interesting mathematical discussionsDOWNLOAD HERE.

Position with Wellies

Using wellies to encourage positional languageDOWNLOAD HERE.

Early Years Articles

Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years

This article describes how the NRICH Early Years resources aim to further develop young children's natural problem-solving abilities in the context of mathematics.

A Good Foundation for Number Learning for Five Year Olds?

Stage: Early years and 1

This article, written by Dr. Sue Gifford, evaluates the Early Learning Numbers Goal in England, in the light of research.

Early Years Activities Format Explained

Why we've written what we've written... DOWNLOAD HERE

Further Resources


Placing a number of socks in the environment can encourage conversations about capacity, sorting and matchingDOWNLOAD HERE.

Number Book

Children will love creating their own 'number book'DOWNLOAD HERE.


A variety of balances and objects to put in/on them will intrigue young childrenDOWNLOAD HERE.


Encourage mathematical thinking through cookingDOWNLOAD HERE.

Mud Kitchen

Explore the mathematics of a mud kitchenDOWNLOAD HERE!

Shapes in the Bag

Children put their hand into a bag and try to describe the shape they feel without lookingDOWNLOAD HERE.

Dressing Up

This activity encourages children to think mathematically as they play with dressing-up clothesDOWNLOAD HERE.

I Have a Box

This activity encourages children to guess what is inside your boxDOWNLOAD HERE.

Making Caterpillars

Our making caterpillars activity uses clay and dough to introduce measurement. DOWNLOAD HERE

Building Towers

Stacking and manipulation of 3D shapes.DOWNLOAD HERE


Wiggly lines provoke discussion about paths. DOWNLOAD HERE

Golden Beans

Counting golden beans and beginning to match numerals to amounts. DOWNLOAD HERE


Children often enjoy rolling large dice so take a look at these challengesDownload.


Sorting objects which have got muddled up.DOWNLOAD HERE

Making a Picture

Children's picture making is a useful context for recognising and describing patterns and shapes. DOWNLOAD HERE

Making Footprints

Making prints and exploring the shapes that result. DOWNLOAD HERE


Most children love collecting and it's an ideal context for sorting and counting. DOWNLOAD HERE

Playing Incey Wincey Spider

Here are ideas for using this well known rhyme as a counting game: who will win, the rain or the sun? Download

Maths Story Time

Telling a story which poses a problem for children to solve.DOWNLOAD HERE

Exploring 2D Shapes

Using ribbons and strings to support small children's understanding of 2D shape. DOWNLOAD HERE


Discussing weights of wrapped presents.DOWNLOAD HERE

Number Rhymes

A counting song activity. Download


Putting objects into a container in a certain length of time.DOWNLOAD HERE

Long Creatures

Creating long creatures from card, cubes etc.DOWNLOAD HERE


Pirates shopping for treasure.DOWNLOAD HERE


Using tidying up as a context for number work. DOWNLOAD HERE


Sorting objects into baskets.DOWNLOAD HERE


Ideas using real life and small world play for ordering. DOWNLOAD HERE

Washing Line

Hanging out dolls' clothes after they have been washed. DOWNLOAD HERE

Tubes and Tunnels

Exploring tubes and tunnels.DOWNLOAD HERE

Wrapping Parcels

Create a post office role play area and invite children to wrap parcels for sendingDOWNLOAD HERE.

Early Years Books

Publishing information about books we have referenced (and others that have been recommended to us by you).

How can you help us develop these resources?

Send us some real examples of the activities in action

To make these resources even more useful we’d love to have:

• photographs of children engaging with these tasks
• examples of what they say
• examples of what they create
• examples of the mathematics that you created together.

Everything from one photo upwards is very welcome. Thank you.
Let us know if you have permission for us to publish what you send on the NRICH site and if you are happy for us to do that.

Send us your feedback

It could be about the layout, the activity or both.
Feel free to send a few sentences or a longer reflection.

The layout:
• How well did the layout and content communicate the potential mathematical richness of each activity?
• Did it give you what you needed to try it out in your setting?
• If not, what additional information would be useful?
• Have you any ideas for making the layout of each activity even more ‘user-friendly’?

The activity:
• How did the activity work for your children?
• What supported their mathematical learning?
• What surprised/interested you?

Our email is enquiries.nrich@maths.org. We’d be delighted to hear from you and very much appreciate your support in developing these activities further.

*Our EYFS partners are Daphne Babouris, Penny Coltman, Sue Gifford, Emma Jones, Kirsty Lombari, Anna Tanton and Cherri Moseley.