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 articles Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years and Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years: Developing Opportunities, Strategies and Confidence.

You may also wish to look at our Early Years and Stage 1 Curriculum Mapping document (Word document or pdf), which links NRICH tasks to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and the Key Stage 1 Mathematics National Curriculum in England.

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.

You may also like to look through these 'top ten' lists of mathematical resources for children up to the age of 5, published on the Foundation Years website.

Recently Published

Pattern Making

What is your pattern? DOWNLOAD HERE

Spring Scale

Children choose items to put into the cartons and discuss why some items pull the carton down further than others. DOWNLOAD HERE

Estimation Station

How many is in the jar? Counting to see who is right. DOWNLOAD HERE

Early Years Articles

Developing Pattern Awareness with Young Children

Stage: Early years

This articles explores the importance of pattern awareness with young children.

Young Children's Mathematical Recording

Stage: Early years and 1

In this article, Janine Davenall reflects on children’s personalised mathematical recordings as part of a small research project based in her Reception class.

Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years: Developing Opportunities, Strategies and Confidence

Stage: Early years and 1

In this article for Early Years practitioners, Dr Sue Gifford outlines ways to develop children's problem-solving strategies and confidence in problem solving.

What to Expect, When? Parents' Guide 2015

Stage: Early years

This short article critiques the 'What to Expect, When' guidance, written for parents who want to find out more about their child's learning and development in the first five years.

The Value of Two

Stage: Early years and 1

Ruth Trundley outlines her doctoral research and concludes that development of an understanding of cardinality is a crucial element of counting that can be overlooked.

Developing Number Through Tidying Up

Stage: Early years and 1

This article describes how one nursery setting focused on tidying up time as a context in which to explicitly target the development of number and calculation skills.

Early Years Mathematics: How to Create a Nation of Mathematics Lovers?

Stage: Early years

In this article, Dr Sue Gifford outlines how we can create positive attitudes and higher achievement in mathematics, starting in the Early Years.

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

Show Me

In how many different ways can you show the same number? DOWNLOAD HERE

Owl's Packing List

Can you help Owl pack to go to his aunty's? DOWNLOAD HERE

Water, Water

How will we find out which bottles will hold the most lemonade for our outing to the parkDOWNLOAD 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.

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

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

Tubes and Tunnels

Exploring tubes and tunnels.DOWNLOAD HERE

Position with Wellies

Using wellies to encourage positional languageDOWNLOAD HERE.

Early Years Books

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

The Box Game

Can you work out how many toys are hidden in the box? DOWNLOAD HERE

Double Trouble

What will happen if we double the number of naughty dogs? DOWNLOAD HERE

Two Halves

How might you share this cookie with a friend? DOWNLOAD HERE

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.