Following our recent input with Eddie on the links between maths, play and stories, I decided that this was an area I would like to research further into as I never quite realised just how much of the mathematical knowledge that our young children first acquire is through play based learning.
Maths and Play
One of the main points I learned through the input is just how many key mathematical concepts children can develop through play, whether it be time, size, shape, colour or number, children are constantly developing their knowledge and skills in these areas through the mode of learning which they are introduced to very early in their life- play.
Allowing children to learn through play based activities is extremely important as this is a fantastic learning environment in which children feel relaxed and comfortable enough to experiment, explore and make vital links within their learning. A play based environment also provides a meaningful context for the children therefore they may be more encouraged to think more creatively about the concepts they are exploring.
Friedrich Froebel viewed that parental involvement is vital for effective learning through play. He also viewed that the environment in which the children were playing in had to be appropriate in order to encourage the child to grow and develop in the best possible manner.
Susan Isaacs also valued the involvement of parents in the early education of their children. Isaacs also believed that learning through fantasy play was beneficial for young children as children can move in and out of reality and express their thoughts and feelings.
But how is maths related to play? I had no idea that such a wide number of mathematical concepts were explored through play yet they seem so obvious after they have been highlighted.
During quality play children are:
- making decisions
- experimenting with strategies
(Lewis, cited in Pound, 1999)All of these concepts listed above are key mathematical skills in which children begin to develop even before they start their school life. It is vital that children are provided with a play rich environment in which they can freely explore and develop these skills.
In terms of adult involvement in play, Tucker, 2014 states that if mathematical development is to be fully supported though play then there must be a degree of adult involvement. In order for it to be fully effective then there must be a mixture of child-initiated and adult-supported play.
“While practitioner-led activity can ensure the systematic teaching of skills, child initiated learning, without adult control and dominance, can enable children to become self-regulated learners.” (Tucker,2014)
Maths and Stories
Many stories can also help develop mathematical concepts in young children. There are a wide range of books which can be used to introduce and discuss mathematical language or help develop skills such as counting, number formation, ordering, addition and subtraction.
In my opinion, stories are a great way to introduce maths to children. Stories create a relaxed atmosphere for learning in which children feel a sense of enjoyment and feel at ease and comfortable. By learning maths through story we are also developing literacy skills at the same time.
Below is an example of a story that can be used to teach young children a few different mathematical concepts.
This story in particular allows opportunity to explore many maths principles with young children. The first concept being when the characters do not know how to count but are trying to find out who has the most marbles, this could then be an opportunity to question the child or children and ask them how they think they could find out who had the most marbles.
The next opportunity for discussion in the story would then be when the characters want to know who caught the most fish. Many questions could be raised here such as “Would the same solution work again?” “Why wouldn’t it work?” then more discussion could be had about the varying sizes of the fish.
Finally, graphing is introduced as the solution to find out who had the most fish.
I thought this story in particular was a fantastic example of how story can be linked to mathematical teaching due to the variety of concepts introduced in such a short story.
Overall, through both this input and my own research I can now say I am fully aware of just how much play and story can come into use when teaching maths and it is something I will definitely value and make good use of in future practice!
How stories develop maths(no date) Available at:http://www.teachingyourchild.org.uk/maths-stories.htm#How_stories_develop_maths_ (Accessed 19th October 2017)
Tucker, K. (2014) Mathematics through play in the early years 3rd edn. London:SAGE publications ltd.
Valentine, E. (2017) “Maths, Play and Stories”[powerpoint presentation] ED21006:Discovering Mathematics (Accessed 19th October 2017)