We begin with what the children know already, often how old they are: a very important number! We encourage children to notice what is different and later, what is the same, as these are sound foundations for mathematical learning. We sing number rhymes and action songs with numbers to help children learn number names and encourage them to share number songs that they sing at home.
Counting and quantities
Once children are aware of numbers, we help them to understand that numbers represent a quantity. We teach them to count using one number for each object and that the last number represents the total quantity. We encourage children that everything can be counted from jumps and hops in the garden to pieces of fruit at snack time or the stairs to the nappy changing unit. We point out numbers all around us e.g. on road signs and on the
Exploring shape and measures
Children use a range of construction toys and blocks to explore 2D and 3D shapes, learning practically what different shapes look and feel like. Cooking and following recipes offer opportunities to measure quantities. Children have access to timers and tape measures to use in their own play which might lead to them comparing different lengths and heights.
Our approach to teaching
We use every opportunity to include Maths in activities, such as counting out the cutlery, glasses and plates for lunchtime or putting wellies into pairs when we tidy up. We also make sure that we take Maths to the children: when an observation shows that they need help with a concept, we will plan activities to support this. We also use our observations to extend and challenge children who are already very confident with Maths.
Listening to, and joining in with, songs and rhymes is all part of the process of learning to read. Children need to hear the way that words flow, how some may sound the same and to play with words.
The first thing a child is likely to ‘read’ is their name as that is a very important part of themselves. Later on there will be a connection about how letters represent a sound and that putting letters together creates words.
So much more than books…
Writing doesn’t just appear in books of course. As adults we are reading throughout the day without even thinking about it. Signs and labels, instructions, road names, text messages, menus… the list is endless.
We introduce these to the children in nursery as part of their play (having a menu in a cafe for example). We look at how words are read left to right and from top to bottom. Whilst reading we may track the words with our fingers or look at particular words and the way they’re written: large words often mean you say them loudly!
But what about books…?
It is just as important to talk about the pictures in a book as it is to look at the writing. Being able to talk about what might be happening, what the characters may be saying to each other or wondering about what might happen next. The pictures often give us a clue as to what the writing may say.
We have Core Books that we read frequently throughout the year in order that the children come to know them very well. We also tell these stories in different ways, such as using props or actions.
Our approach to teaching
As always we start with what the children are interested in. As well as reading factual and fiction books, we also tell our own stories and the children are encouraged to make up and act out their own. We look for, and comment on, print in our environment and beyond. The children are encouraged and supported to use small characters or puppets to act out a story, often they will improvise using anything to hand. Singing is a big part of the day and we often make up songs on the spot with the children. Above all we make it fun for the children so that they are motivated to find out more about words and books and grow up with a love of reading.
Children need to develop various physical skills and specific muscles before we expect them to ‘write.’ Writing is a sensory as well as a physical experience. Before they can control a pencil they need to be able to control their body. Children are given opportunities to climb, push, pull, swing and use a range of different tools.
Children develop the muscles in their hands, wrists and fingers in a variety of ways: manipulating playdough, threading, singing finger songs and rhymes, using tools such as scissors or a knife to prepare snack.
Not just pens and paper…
Children will experiment with making marks before giving them a meaning. They may use paint and water on a fence in the garden, chalk on the ground to make circles to jump in or use a stick in the mud. These marks will gradually mean something and children will realise that writing is all around us – in books, on signs, on the register, on electronic devices.
As with anything we do, we need to have a reason to want to do it. The first thing children are likely to be interested in is writing their own name, particularly that magical initial letter! They may write an order in a role play café, write down a story they have made up, name something they have made so that they can take it home or give a message to someone. They will see adults writing in the nursery and talking about what they are doing and why.
Our approach to teaching
We value everything that a child produces, from the very first marks which they proudly show us. Writing is demonstrated throughout the day, so that is seen as having a purpose. Name cards are used throughout the setting and are easily accessible for children to refer to when needed. We don’t offer tracing over letters as children won’t necessarily learn to form letters correctly that way. Children are encouraged to hold a pencil in a way that is comfortable and effective. Clipboards, notebooks, white boards, felt pens, chalks and pencils are everywhere at nursery