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Queenswell Infant & Nursery School

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Mathematical Development


It is essential for children to develop a strong understanding of number in order to develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. We aim to provide an environment that allows children frequent and varied daily opportunities to use their understanding of number in real life-contexts. We intend to provide children with the secure base of knowledge and vocabulary that they will need to master mathematics. It is also important that there are rich opportunities for children to develop spatial reasoning skills across areas including shape, space and measure; and to develop positive attitudes and interests in maths; look for patterns and relationships; spot connections; ‘have a go’; talk about what they notice; and not be afraid to make mistakes.



We provide a mathematically challenging environment. This includes:


  • a number-rich environment – number lines and other visuals showing the correlation between numerals and quantities.
  • a range of loose part manipulatives available as part of continuous provision such as pebbles and tens frames for organising counting.
  • Daily opportunities to practice counting and understanding of number e.g. counting children at register, sharing and sorting equipment, fruit and/or milk.
  • Maths mastery scheme of work – White Rose Maths (in Reception).
  • Resources and activities suggested by NRICH.
  • Block areas in all year groups with varying degrees of challenge to help develop spatial reasoning skills and mathematical language around shape, space and measure.
  • Mathematical vocabulary rich environment - vocab words, explicit questions and challenges displayed and referred to throughout continuous provision.
  • Adults understand the 5 counting principles.

Pre-School                                        →

Nursery                                            →


Number and Numerical Patterns
  • Adults to model using counting language across a range of opportunities that corresponds with quantity e.g. sharing snack, counting children, steps
  • Show an awareness of their age and what this number represents in terms of quantity e.g. adding 4 candles onto their birthday cake when they are 4.
  • Count objects, actions and sounds in a range of situations
  • Link the number symbol with its cardinal number value


  • Take part in finger rhymes with numbers e.g. rhymes that involve hiding and returning - ‘2 little dicky birds’
  • Recite numbers up to and past 5 – counting songs and rhymes including those counting on and backwards – adults regularly say counting sequence in a range of playful contexts.
  • Recite numbers up to and past 10 – counting songs and rhymes including those counting on and backwards – adults regularly say counting sequence in a range of playful contexts.
  • Read stories that involve counting.
  • Compare amounts using language such ‘lots’, ‘more’ or ‘same’ when counting in varied contexts e.g. building towers with bricks.
  • Discuss real world mathematical problems with numbers up to 5 and compare quantities using language such as ‘more than’, ‘less than’ e.g. there are 4 of you but there aren’t enough chairs’
  • Build counting into everyday routines with number beyond 10 e.g. register time, tidy up, lining up, counting out fruit at snack time.
  • Compare numbers using vocabulary such as, ‘more than’, ‘less than’, ‘fewer’, ‘the same as’, ‘equal to’
  • Help children to match counting words with objects – move an object once counted so children learn that we say one number name per item.
  • Say one number for each item when counting objects up to 5.
  • Say one number for each item when counting objects to 10 and beyond.
  • Count verbally to 20 and beyond.
  • Begin to subitise up to 3 objects – adults to point out small groups ‘look, there are 2!’
  • Subitise numbers up to at least 5
  • Put objects into 5 frames and 10 frames to familiarise children with tens structure of number system.
  • Begin to link numerals and amounts, selecting the correct quantity to match a given numeral e.g. show me 5 fingers, can I have 3 pencils please?
  • Adults to emphasise the total number – thank you now I have 3 pencils.
  • Use small numbers to manage learning environment e.g. a pot labelled 5 pencils – bring children’s attention to this especially at tidy up time – how many should we have?
  • Say how many there are after counting e.g. “…6, 7, 8. There are 8 balls”.
  • Count out a smaller number from a larger group to show understanding of cardinal principle.
  • Understand the ‘one more than’/’one less than’ relationship between consecutive numbers.
  • Children to be encouraged to find their own ways of recording including symbols, marks and some numerals.
  • Adults to provide numerals nearby for reference e.g. wooden numerals in a basket or number track on fence.
  • Discuss different ways that children might record quantities (e.g. tallies, dots, numeral cards)


  • Begin to use some everyday language to add and subtract verbally (e.g. I need 2 more, then I will have 5; I took 2 away, now there are 3).
  • Explore the composition of numbers to 10 (emphasise parts within the whole)
  • Use language related to addition and subtraction (plus, add, take away, minus, equals)
  • Automatically recall number bonds to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some to 10
  • Show awareness of difference between odd/even numbers
  • Know some doubling facts
Spatial reasoning – shape, space and measure
  • Provide a range of resources for building and stacking.
  • Talk about and explore 2D and 3D shapes modelling language such as circles, rectangles, triangles and cuboids using language such as ‘sides’, ‘corners’, ‘straight’, ‘flat’, ‘round’.
  • Continue to explore 2D and 3D shapes using mathematical language and shape names. (including edges, faces, corners for 3D shapes)
  • Select, rotate and manipulate shapes to develop spatial reasoning skills (e.g. provide pattern and building sets, pattern blocks such as Numicon, as well as natural found materials)
  • Compose and decompose shapes so that children recognise a shapes can have other shapes within it.
  • Combine objects like stacking blocks, building towers, putting shapes together e.g. boxes that fit into each other, shape sorters
  • Adults to encourage children to talk informally about shape properties such as ‘sharp corner’ or ‘pointy’ – ‘we need a piece with a straight edge’
  • During play, adults comment on interestingly shaped objects like vegetables, spoons, pans, balls.
  • Understand positional language in real contexts e.g. how to sweep water ‘down’ the drain, the bag is ‘under’ the table.
  • Understand and use positional language e.g. on top, next to, behind, under, in front of
  • Adults to describe children’s climbing, tunnelling and hiding using spatial words such as ‘on top of’, ‘down’ and ‘through’.
  • Explore language around describing a familiar route using words such as ‘in front of’, ‘behind’.
  • Build routes with large blocks, train tracks, guttering etc.
  • Include using journey stories such as ‘Rosie’s Walk’, ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’
  • Provide a range of inset puzzles
  • Make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity.
  • Make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity using mathematical language such as, ‘heavier/lighter’, ‘shorter/longer/taller’, ‘empty/full/half full’.
  • Provide objects with marked differences in size throughout continuous provision e.g. 3 different size jugs with water tray.
  • Talk about and identify patterns in the environment e.g. stripes on clothes.
  • Use informal language such as ‘pointy’, ‘spotty’, ‘blobs’ etc
  • Notice and talk about repeating patterns within the environment.
  • Adults to use language of size and weight in everyday contexts, modelling language such as ‘bigger/little/smaller’, ‘high/low’, ‘tall’, ‘heavy’.
  • Loose part manipulatives to explore and make patterns with e.g. sticks, stones, leaves.
  • Adults extend to modelling making ABAB patterns.
  • Continue, copy and recreate patterns with varying rules e.g. AB, ABB, ABBC.
  • Talk about patterns of events – ‘first’, ‘then’, ‘next’
  • Use basic sand-timers to measure short periods of time e.g. when turn taking
  • Recall and name days of the week, months of the year.
  • Understand different parts of the day at school – morning, afternoon
  • Begin to understand the concept of 1 minute – made up of 60 seconds
  • Provide coins for children to explore in real life contexts e.g. shop roleplay area.
  • Introduce counting 1p coins to find the total cost of an object up to and beyond 10p.


Early Learning Goals: *(only to be used as assessment point at end of reception year)

Number: Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number. Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5. Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.

Numerical patterns: Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system. Compare quantities up to 20 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity. Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.


Curricular goals:

Pre-school: Children use number names in their play and are beginning to compare quantities using language such as ‘lots’ or ‘more’. They explore shape, space and measure through their play and can tell the difference between objects that are ‘bigger’ or ‘smaller’.

Nursery: Children have some concept of number and numerals and their relation to quantity. They explore mathematics through a range of open-ended and natural resources and use these to demonstrate their understanding of number, shape, space and measures.

Reception: Children have a secure understanding of numerals and their relation to quantity. They confidently use maths throughout their play (e.g. using money in their role play; measuring when building or counting to measure time). They are able to make use of mathematical concepts to solve problems, including during sustained shared thinking with others.


Moving on to KS1 – Links to National Curriculum: Maths

By the end of EYFS children may know and sometimes use vocabulary such as:


Number – place value

Number names up to 20

Number - Addition and subtraction

More than, less than, fewer, the same, equals, add, plus, takeaway

Number - Multiplication and division

Double, share

Geometry - Shape

2D shape names e.g. circle, triangle, square, rectangle,

Side, corner, face, edge, flat, curved, straight

Geometry – position and direction

on top, next to, behind, under, in front of

Measurement – length and height

Short/shorter, tall/taller, long/longer

Measurement – Weight, mass & capacity

Heavy/heavier, light/lighter, empty, full, half full

Measurement – Money

Coin, 1 penny, pence

Measurement - time

Seconds, minute, days of week, months of year, morning, afternoon,