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Help With Maths Activities


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I am in an NQT in a year one class with 28 children. There are no major behavioural issues and surprisingly they are actually quite good at sitting down all together and getting down to some work. Unfortunately they actually aren’t at all ready for this approach. Of the 28 only 5 had reached that magical 78 on their eye-profile, with the rest being under and a significant number (11 I think off the top of my head) achieving 4 or under in key areas of reading, writing, calculating, number etc. Obviously they are not ready for year one objectives and I’m finding it very challenging trying to set things up and plan lessons which cater for the needs of every child. (My top 5 need year one objectives to stretch them).


Obviously I’ve never done this before and it’s further complicated by the fact that I only teach mornings and the teacher in the afternoon is reluctant to move away from having every child sitting down at the same time, which means I’m limited in space beause of tables/chairs etc. Plus the school has never used continuous provision in year one prior to this year and seem to be looking to me to set it up.


The area I’m really struggling in is maths, most children aren’t secure in their concepts of number and can’t read numerals 0-9 consistently, never mind anything higher (whilst my top 5 can work confidently with numbers to 100). I need continuous provision and independent activities that will help them build basic concepts like this but I’m struggling to find things that aren’t going to need an adult to scaffold them (with 28 children I can’t put me and my TA with my lower ability all the time). Does anyone have any ideas? I have an area for sand OR water and a role play area, but I’m struggling to find things to put in these (the other teacher insists RP is a dentists at the moment). At the moment I feel like I’m floundering around only just keeping my head above water. It’s the biggest class to come up through the school for a long time and unfortunately the other teachers, whilst understanding that the children are low ability, don’t particularly appreciate the challenge of having so many children to teach at once. (Next biggest class has 17!)


Any ideas/help would be much appreciated!

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I'm pre-school, but the way we teach number recognition is through playdough, using cutters, or making the numerals from play dough, sometimes we have laminated number mats out and the children make a sausage of dough and then follow the number's layout on the mat. We hide numbered vehicles in a box of shredded paper and the children then match the number on the car to one on a number line but you could number anything and put it in there, we also use it for pattern recognition, so we would put spotty and stripey things in there etc.. I have little rubber ducks in the water tray and a small fishing net, they scoop out the duck and correspond the number. I hide those big foam numbers that fit together like a jigsaw in the garden and the children go looking for them and match them into the jigsaw. I have a come and count table - little zip up bags, interesting boxes etc with nice little resources in, such as 3 key rings, 4 polished stones etc. the children count how many objects and find a matching number card to go with the box.


I have some very easy dot to dot pictures starting at 0 - 5 and then up to 20, we have the usual number jigsaws for the children, in your dentist's area, you could have say draw a picture of a mouth and number the teeth on it, appointment times, or numbered cards for the children to hold and wait for their number to be called before going to see the dentist


I should pop in and see your Year R teacher and borrow some resources and pick her brains!!

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I teach in Reception - have you looked on Sparklebox at their Maths resources? I have laminated flowers with numbers to 20 on, but you could get rockets or something, that I have threaded a lace through so children have to put a corresponding number of beads on; Sparklebox playdough counting mats; build a construction model with 10 bricks etc; dot to dots; Scholastic book 'Maths Without Worksheets' is very helpful, but these ideas more adult help than my other suggestions; Outdoor you can chalk a selection of numbers and get children to run to a certain number; I pretend the numbers have fallen off our number washing line and get children to help me put them back on in order, or only some have fallen off, what is this number? what goes before it? EWhat goes inbetween 5 and 7 etc. Play musicla statues, when the music stops hold up a number card, children show you that many fingers, or you show them fingers/objects they show you number on a number fan etc.

Hope these ideas helpful

Lis x

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Insist on a resources budget because you have a larger class. The best resource I have bought this year came from the BEAM maths site - a fantastic folder chock full of ideas for more and less able Rec/Y1.


It's called


Starting out Foundation Stage Maths - about £50. It contains loads of ideas for all PSRN areas, through both focus tasks and provision. There are also very useful assessment steps to help you know where children need to go next and showing steps in progression.



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Insist on a resources budget because you have a larger class.


I really wish I could do this! I'm expected to bring in continuous provision with no resources. We have a dolls house with five pieces of furniture and one doll, which is about all the small world stuff between year one and reception. The only large construction we have are 46 ancient wooden blocks between the two classes, no large plastic blocks at all, it's a complete nightmare and it really makes me angry cause these kids don't have a lot at home either. Maybe one day myself and the reception teacher will get the point across that we need more stuff, but so far nothing is getting done.



Thanks for all the ideas though everyone, I'm going to try and use some of them in the next couple of weeks.

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Hi, it can be tricky to support learning if you haven't got the money for resources.


Here are a few ideas for free/ homemade maths resources that your lower achievers could do independently;

* number cards to match with counting conkers into buckets/ containers

* drinks bottles with numbers on for children to roll a ball at, in a skittle type game

* number line on floor, pick a number card and jump frog forwards

* bean bags and hoops, children to record score on paper / whiteboard

* dominoes (real or drawn and laminated) count dots and match with number card


Encourage the children to work together in pairs to support each other in the activities and tell them that they will have the chance later in the lesson to tell you/ their class about the learning that they've been doing.


Hope this helps.

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