What are Early Numeracy and Maths Skills?
These are skills that lead to mathematical thinking, for example, about colour, size and shapes; about classifying and balance; and about numbers and counting; symmetry and balance.
How can you help your baby develop early maths skills?
There are lots of ways that you can incorporate mathematical concepts into every day activities.
- For very young children, developing mathematical skills can be as simple as singing songs with numbers, such as Five Little Ducks, or No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, or the PlaySchool classic Roll Over, Roll Over. Use your fingers to show baby how the number of monkeys reduces every time one of them bumps his head!
- Use numbers while you’re chatting to baby about everyday objects, “Look, there are three birds in the sky,” or “Mummy has two apples, one for you and one for me.” These are very simple mathematical principles.
There are lots of educational toddler and baby toys, too, that will help your little one to learn early maths concepts.
Maths Activities for 6 Month Olds
- As baby learns to walk, you can count steps with her.
- Count objects at the supermarket, one banana, two bananas, etc., or the number of trees in your garden.
- Start teaching baby to count. Although she won’t have any idea of the concept to begin with, you can teach baby the numbers by singing or chanting them with her.
Maths Toys for 6 Month Olds
Although it might feel a bit early to introduce maths concepts, talking to your baby as he plays will help him to learn. Try some of these baby maths toys to get him started.
The RMS baby soft book is a great introduction to early maths concepts. Black and white contrasts will help hold baby's attention, and as he gets older, he can try to spot how many of each object there is on the page.
The Green Toys Shape Sorter will help baby learn early concepts of shapes, colours and sizes. Show baby the pieces and talk to him about the colour, what shape it is, and see if he can work out which holes the shape needs to go into.
The Green Toys Stacking Cups will introduce baby to early concepts of size like bigger and smaller. It also doubles as a great baby bath toy or water toy, too!
Maths Activities for 1 Year Olds
- Sort objects around the house. Your toddler can help match socks, for example. Be sure not to overwhelm her by giving her too many at a time, and gradually increase as she becomes more proficient.
- Read stories together and classify objects in the story. Which is the biggest billy goat? Which is the smallest tree?
- Play shape games with blocks and puzzles. Teach your baby the names of the shapes, then once she has started to pick them up, find shapes around the house. The TV is a rectangle, the plate is a circle, etc.
Maths Toys for 1 Year Olds
The Hape Colour and Shape Sorter will help teach early concepts of shapes, sizes, and early pattern recognition. Ask your child to find all the green pegs, to fit all the round pegs into holes, or to copy colour patterns.
The Djeco Funny Blocks will help your 1 year old learn about early concepts of size and patterns. Which block is bigger? Can you find the biggest? Which is the smallest? Can you stack them inside each other? Can you make a tower?
The Bigjigs Toys Triangular Activity Centre will help your 12 month old with early number recognition, and will help introduce colours.
Maths Activities for 18 Months Olds
- Mix and match patterns with household objects. It could be different coloured pegs, that you lay red, white, blue, red, white, blue. Then ask your toddler to continue the pattern.
- Begin teaching number recognition, with flashcards or magnets, or a jigsaw puzzle. As your toddler becomes more proficient, practice number recognition while you’re out in the car or at the supermarket.
Further Reading: Baby Development: Visual Cognition
Maths Toys for 18 Months Olds
There are lots of wonderful maths toys for toddlers.
The Everearth My First Multi Play Activity Cube will help teach your toddler counting, sorting, spatial awareness, and colours. There's a wooden shape sorter, animal tic tac toe and a sliding peg board with shapes, as well as other activities.
The Janod Duck Family Wooden Stacking Toy will help with colour and pattern recognition, as well as sorting the large wooden beads into different heights. It's also great for helping to develop hand eye co-ordination.
The Everearth Stacking Duck is a brilliant maths toy for toddlers. It will help with concepts like bigger, smaller, lighter, darker; learning shapes; nesting the blocks; counting, stacking and sorting.
Maths Activities for 2 Year Olds
- Play Snap with Uno cards. These are ideal, as the numbers are printed in large type, and children love the snapping and shouting of snap, and don’t realise that they’re learning numbers as they simply want to play.
- When your child is able to recognise numbers, why not try games like dot to dot? This is great practice for sequential numbering.
- Older children can help with measuring ingredients while you are cooking.
Further Reading: Educational Toys - How To Develop Your Baby's Problem Solving Skills
Maths Toys for 2 Year Olds
The Im Toy 6 in 1 Triangular Kids Activity Centre will keep any two year old busy! There are so many great activities to help learning early maths concepts - there's a clock, an abacus, and a shape sorting labyrinth. There's also an alphabet set for teaching early literacy concepts.
The Hape Double Rainbow Stacker will help with building shape, colour and size differentiation skills.
The Everearth Butterfly Stacking Toy will help toddlers to learn about shapes, colours and counting, and will also help to develop logic and problem solving skills.
Maths Activities for 3 Year Olds
- You can help your child with preschool maths skills as you're out and about. Start talking to him about money at the supermarket, and ask him to pay.
- Ask your 3 year old to set the table with enough plates, cutlery and cups for the whole family.
- Let your child divide the food so that everyone gets a piece.
Further Reading: Educational Toys - How To Develop Your Baby's Hand Eye Co-ordination
Maths Toys for 3 Year Olds
The Everearth Wooden Clock will help with learning to tell time, with minute and hour markings. There are also 12 wooden blocks in different shapes and colours, printed with bold numbers to help with number recognition.
The Hape Rainbow Bead Abacus is a classic early maths toy, that will help with patterning and colour recognition as well as counting skills.
The Hape String Along Shapes are a set of brightly coloured wooden beads that will help with colour and pattern recognition, as well as fine motor skills.
Books & Reading to Teach Early MathsThere are lots of great baby story books and books for toddlers that you can use to introduce early maths concepts. At the same time, you'll be expanding their vocabulary, engaging their imaginations and developing their reading skills. Here's some of our top picks:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr Seuss
- One Woolly Wombat by Kerry Argent
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
- Quack and Count by Keith Baker
- Doggies by Sandra Boynton
- One Mole Digging a Hole by Julia Donaldson
Maths concepts are all around us. Involving children with everyday activities and explaining to them what you are doing will give them a head start on developing their early maths skills.
Where to buy maths skills toys
Hello Charlie has a great range of toys to help baby develop maths skills. Australia wide shipping, same day despatch when you order before 10am.