Surrounding children with number from an early age creates the foundations of maths. Obvious in some ways but it's how we do it which fosters the love of learning so important on the path to school.
Here at Barn Cottage, we use these tactile set ups daily, always different, always sensory and natural. The smell of star anise from yesterday's playdoh was still on the pine cones as I set up this morning and it reminded me of the patterns and shapes we were playing with. These cognitive connections made daily spark impulses and ideas, emotions and thoughts.
As educators, I encourage my team to scaffold learning by playing alongside children in an open ended way.
It's tempting to approach a set up like this and ask a child 'What's this number? Can you count out 3 acorns' but the only use in these 'testing' type questions is to establish what a child knows and what a child doesn't know. And if we really look at learning closely, does it truly matter? After all, children don't learn from being told, they learn through finding out.
Turning basic questions into statements of wonder can be a very effective way to change interregation into open ended play. 'I wonder which tree this leaf came from' 'I wonder how many circles we can find together' 'I wonder how many pine cones there are'.
Instead, we talk, we explore, we wonder and we play...'look I found a number three, I'm going to look for other numbers'. More often than not a child will hand over another number with pride, may even say it's name, but if nothing else will open the door to conversation which along with other sensory stimuli, in it's twisting, turning way builds connections which are repeated and built upon and extended all the way to school.