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

Scooters, Bikes and Trikes

Age 3 to 5

When waiting for a ride on outdoor toys, children can consider which route they might take around the outside area and how long they will spend on their toy.

Collecting

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children make a collection out of some items and then discuss what they notice about their collection, focusing on the shapes and patterns that they can make.

Small World Play

Age 3 to 5

This activity provides an engaging context for children to consider the space they will allocate for some 'small world' toys, and how many toys they will be able to fit into the space.

Sock Washing Line

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children are encouraged to spot pairs of socks and to order the socks by size and length on the washing line.

Using Books: Maisy Goes Camping

Age 3 to 5

In this task, the book 'Maisy Goes Camping' by Lucy Cousins introduces children to the idea of using the size and number of objects to work out how many will fit in a 'tent'.

Using Books: The Doorbell Rang

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, the book 'The Doorbell Rang' by Pat Hutchins provides an engaging context in which children can practise sharing.

Wrapping Parcels

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, children have the opportunity to wrap some toys and to measure and discuss the size of the box or wrapping paper that they will need.

Early Years Articles

Developing Pattern Awareness with Young Children

Age 3 to 5

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

Young Children's Mathematical Recording

Age 3 to 7

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

Age 3 to 7

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

Age 3 to 5

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

Age 3 to 7

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

Age 3 to 7

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?

Age 3 to 5

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?

Age 3 to 7

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

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children will learn different ways of representing the same number.

Owl's Packing List

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, children can practise reading numbers and counting items in order to help Owl pack for his holiday.

Water, Water ...

Age 3 to 5

This task provides a real-life context for children to compare capacities in order to choose the biggest container for their lemonade.

Number Book

Age 3 to 5

Creating a 'Book of Four' provides an opportunity for children to collect groups of four objects and consider how the groups of objects are similar.

Balances

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, children will use the language of weight when comparing objects on a balance scale.

Cooking with Children

Age 3 to 5

By following some simple recipes in this task, children can practise the skills of measuring and counting ingredients.

Mud Kitchen

Age 3 to 5

When playing in this mud kitchen, children will be using the language of size and capacity to choose utensils for different tasks.

Shapes in the Bag

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children put their hands into a bag and describe what shape they think they can feel and why.

I Have a Box

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, having access to a mystery box will spark children's imagination and encourage them to describe what they notice about the box.

Making Caterpillars

Age 3 to 5

By making 'caterpillars' in this activity, children will have an opportunity to practise using language of length and width, as well as using non-standard measures to compare lengths.

Building Towers

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children will explore 3D shapes when selecting which shapes to use in their tower.

Paths

Age 3 to 5

By making 'paths' out of different materials and discussing these, children will develop their shape and space language in this activity.

Golden Beans

Age 3 to 5

This task provides children with an opportunity to count 'golden beans' and find a number card to represent how many they have.

Dice

Age 3 to 5

This dice activity encourages children to relate the number on the dice to the number of teddies they need to choose.

Packing

Age 3 to 5

This activity involves sorting toys into categories by using comparing and classifying skills.

Making a Picture

Age 3 to 5

This task provides an opportunity for children to work together to make a picture, discussing with each other which position they want to put each shape in.

Making Footprints

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, children will develop an awareness of the faces of 3D shapes by using them to make 'footprints' in soft dough.

Incey Wincey

Age 3 to 5

In this game, children roll the dice and count how many steps to move the spider up or down the drainpipe.

Maths Story Time

Age 3 to 5

This story provides an engaging context for children to share out the treasure fairly among the characters.

Exploring 2D Shapes

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children will make shapes out of loops of string and discuss what they notice about their shapes.

Presents

Age 3 to 5

Comparing the wrapped presents in this activity will give children the chance to explore and discuss weight, including the idea that large objects aren't necessarily the heaviest.

Number Rhymes

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, the rhyme 'Ten Green Bottles' is used to encourage children to count backwards to work out how many bottles are left.

Timing

Age 3 to 5

In this task, children will practise using a variety of timers to work out how many items they can put into a jar before the time finishes.

Long Creatures

Age 3 to 5

In this task, making a variety of long creatures out of card will provide an opportunity for children to discuss and compare lengths.

Shopping - Pirate Poundland

Age 3 to 5

In the pirate pound shop, children can practise their counting skills by choosing ten items to spend their ten pounds on.

Tidying

Age 3 to 5

When tidying away toys in this activity, children will use their counting skills to check that all the toys are in the box.

Baskets

Age 3 to 5

This activity encourages children to practise their sharing and counting skills by putting small objects into some baskets.

Tubes and Tunnels

Age 3 to 5

When investigating these tubes, children will have the opportunity to practise using everyday language to talk about length, size and position.

Position with Wellies

Age 3 to 5

This task uses the familiar situation of a shelf of objects to encourage children to use positional language and follow directions to find their wellies.

Early Years Books

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

The Box Game

Age 3 to 5

In this game, children will use their addition and subtraction skills to keep track of the number of toys hidden inside a box when toys are added in or taken out.

Double Trouble

Age 3 to 5

This story about some troublesome dogs encourages children to find and model doubles of different numbers.

Two Halves

Age 3 to 5

This task provides children with the opportunity to investigate halving different shapes and check that they have made two halves.

Pattern Making

Age 3 to 5

In this activity, there are lots of different patterns for children to make, describe and extend.

Estimation Station

Age 3 to 5

This activity involves filling a jar with small objects to encourage estimation and counting skills.

The Spring Scale

Age 3 to 5

Using the spring scale in this activity provides an engaging context in which children can explore and discuss the weight of different objects.

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.