Maths and Play

Play is an important part of learning and is vital to a child’s development. Play is used across the curriculum to aid learning. There is a focus on active learning in Curriculum for Excellence, it aims to provide opportunities for investigation and exploring. Through play, children can discover and ask questions they may not of thought of, solely working from a textbook. It is a popular method of teaching among other subject areas, so why not maths?

Friedrich Frobel believed that children’s best thinking is done when they are playing. Some may question how play can be achieved during maths, even I wouldn’t have immediately paired the two together. Maths, however, is connected to maths in numerous ways. During play, children are making decisions, predicting, experimenting with strategies and more! Developing these basic skills will flow into their overall learning, and therefore they are more likely to remember the lesson if they enjoy it. I know that the lesson Eddie showed us has stuck with me.

We looked at measurement and we did this by using small linking elephants and a beaker of water. We were able to see how much the water rose and work out its weight. I was able to see in front of me how this was maths, and putting this in perspective made my own thinking clearer. By making the teaching active and playful, you are making it easier for the child to explore and clarify their thinking.

This input inspired me to look at ways I can make maths fun and create a relaxed, comfortable environment whilst learning.

The energy and enthusiasm that these pupils show towards learning maths is something I never experienced, however believe that this is the best way to learn. One of the teachers pointed out that she aims to have the children learn without realising they’re learning. One way to achieve this, is taking the pressure of children. When they don’t feel as if they have to get everything right and learn statically, they are more open to taking risks in their learning and are then able to learn from their mistakes without feeling judged. Math’s is stereotyped as a subject that needs to be learned at desks from a series of textbooks, this module however is helping me to break my own stereotypes and focus on how to change this view. Encouraging children’s enthusiasm towards maths right from the get go sets the right attitude towards the subject and will help to prevent maths anxiety from developing. Finally, if children see that the teacher is having fun they will see maths as a life long subject.


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