Teaching and learning

10 fun maths activities for the EYFS

Fun, educational, and creative maths activities for the Early Years
Children sitting holding maths signs
March 5, 2024
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In a rush? Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Maths is one of the important developmental areas for the Early Years. But, for many of us, it's harder, or not our favourite.
  • But, with these creative maths activities, the children will learn to love numbers, counting and other maths skills.
  • Plus, they develop other skills too, like fine motor skills.

Maths in the Early Years is a crucial stepping stone for children to develop, which is why it’s so important that the little ones can explore and experience it in an enjoyable way. We’ve carefully chosen some fun activities and games to promote early maths learning of numbers through play.

Want to see how it’s done? Click here to watch the video of our five favourite activities ⏯

1. Combine maths skills with fine-motor skills.

Number Hunt in Jelly by Hazeldene Family Centre

This fun maths activity:

First, spread out some plastic numbers in jelly layers. When it’s all set, give out some tongs to children and show them how to pick up the numbers from the wiggly substance (and practice their fine motor skills along the way!). This sensory play is a great way of sneaking in number recognition into some sensory play.

What you need:

  • Jelly
  • Bowls
  • Plastic Numbers
  • Tongs

2. How do you make maths activities fun? Add Lego!

DIY Lego Pattern Cards by A Crafty Living

This fun maths game:

Lego. Useful in so many different ways, including making mathematics exciting. Prepare some cards with colourful blocks on them and let children discover colour patterns and reproduce them with LEGO bricks. Consider leaving the colouring part to your little learners so they can form their own patterns and include some EAD in the mix too. It's a win-win!

What you need:

  • Paper Cards
  • Coloured Pencils
  • LEGO Blocks

3. Challenge the children's maths skills to solve a missing number mystery

Missing Number Math Activity by Planning Playtime

This Early Years maths game:

Write number sequences on craft sticks and remember to leave some blanks in between. Next, you write the missing numbers on some clothes pins and give them out to the players. Now the children use their fine-motor skills and clip the pins on sticks and complete the sequence. The best thing about this fun and inexpensive maths game is that you only create the props once and they’re ready to be used as many times as you like.

What you need:

  • Craft Sticks (colour or plain)
  • Sharpies
  • Clothes Pins

4. A simple game of swat the number.

Smack the Number Counting Game by Fun Learning for Kids

This fun maths activity:

Prepare some sticky notes with various numbers and place them in front of the children armed with fly swatters. Roll the dice to get your target number. The goal of this simple yet fun game is for the little ones to identify the number on the dice and match it with the ones written on sticky notes by smacking the correct answer with a fly swatter!

What you need:

  • One or two dice
  • Fly swatter
  • Sticky notes

5. Playing with pom-poms to promote problem-solving skills

Straw and Pom Poms Counting Game by Nurture Store

This fun maths game:

Label small containers with some numbers that you’d like your learners to practice and prepare some straws and pom poms. For this fun maths activity, the kids simply put the straw on a pom-pom and suck in, to try and pick it up. Then they drop it over the containers until they’ve got the right number in each one.

What you need:

  • Pom-poms
  • Straws
  • Shallow containers
  • Labelled stickers (or any paper, glue and marker)

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6. A fun maths game to drive you dotty!

Number Dots and Easy Touch And Count Activity by Busy Toddler

This Early Years maths game:

Tape some paper to the wall and write several numbers, each decorated with dots, to match the quantity the number represents e.g. 4 dots on the number 4. Now, the players can touch each dot with a marker and see the number and the quantity altogether! You can also put the paper on the floor but holding a marker up and out makes this not only a fun game for early years maths but also a good way to strengthen those little arm muscles.

What you need:

  • Paper
  • Markers

7. A magnetic, mathematical, magical fishing game

Magnetic fishing number game by Messy Little Monster

This Early Years maths activity:

First, you or the children need to cut your paper into fish shapes and add a paperclip. Next, write the numbers on the fish using a pen. For the fishing rod, tie some string (with a magnet on the end) to your stick! Now the whole class can 'fish' for numbers!

What you need:

  • Card/ Paper (or old pieces of artwork) to cut into fish shapes
  • Paper clips
  • Marker
  • Magnets, preferably some too large to be swallowed.
  • String
  • Stick or long piece of wood

N.B. Always supervise children very carefully with magnets.

8. Fun maths activities are eggs-actly what we're looking for!

Egg Cracking Counting Activity by Modern Preschool

This fun maths game:

Looking to 'hatch' a plan for some fun maths games? Create ‘eggs’ by cutting out oval shapes from cardboard and writing different numbers on them. Students identify the numbers and 'crack the eggs' by punching the corresponding number of holes in them - you could always make one first, as an example. This exercise can also help develop muscles in those minute hands.

What you need:

  • Cardboard
  • Hole punch
  • Markers
  • Scissors

9. More fun in maths? Make it musical!

Top 10 Counting Songs by Super Simple Songs – Kids Songs

This fun maths activity:

According to the BBC “When children are singing they are taking in information and training the brain but they don’t think they are, they think they are just having fun. Singing is an aerobic activity that boosts oxygenation in the bloodstream, increasing mental alertness”. We agree! Check out these 10 lovely songs to give it a go.

What you need:

  • A way to play music
  • Your voice!

10. Matching with maths - a classic game with a mathematical twist.

Valentine Math Activity – Broken Heart Numbers by Fun a Day

This Early Years maths game:

Sometimes the most fun games are the classics. A simple matching game for one player, two players, or the whole classroom! Simply cut out some hearts and cut each in half using different zigzags, squiggles and other connecting shapes. Then write a number on one side and draw a corresponding number of hearts on the other. Well done, you’ve just created puzzles! Challenge the children to see who can find the matching hearts card to their number cards.

What you need:

  • Paper or card
  • Markers
  • Scissors

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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