Number Fun

Make Maths Magical

Maths is not normally a favourite subject from school days imageand if you were like me not many memories about it are particularly pleasant! This may well be true, but it is so important to not put your little learners off the subject, but instead display a positive attitude. There are so many ways in which you can aid Maths at home, which I’ve shared in the past, but I thought this time I’d create a resource list of helpful bits and bobs to expand those mathematical brains further.

  • Create a number washing line to have as a visual display. Draw, paint or decorate numbers to peg on and use for number recognition, counting forwards & backwards or play ‘What’s the missing number?’ when a number thief steals a number card off the washing line.
  • Number Line/100 square: create a simple number line to use as a visual aid for all aged children. A 100 square is also a very useful visual aid for children working with larger numbers. Lots available online for you to print out or make one to help with writing numbers.
  • Flashcards: brilliant for number recognition, ordering numbers, matching pairs, hide & seek numbers or number snap. So many different options out there, but we particularly like the Ladybird version available on Amazon for £6.99
  • Counters: you do not need fancy counters, use any objects at all for counting with. Cheerios, pastas, bricks, pencils, buttons etc all make great counting buddies.
  • Calendar: great for introducing time concepts by talking about days of the week and months of the year. Share your diaries or calendars with children to show them how a week, month or year is made up.
  • Shoes & Socks: brilliant for teaching about pairs, counting in 2’s and odds and evendoor numberss.
  • Tape measures, rulers, measuring jugs & scales: great for playing around with to measure/weigh items, talk about units of measurement, how we measure things and the language associated with lengths and measure.
  • Songs: so many songs use numbers so enjoy some singing together.
  • Books: lots of first picture books include numbers in their stories so enjoy sharing these stories together and highlighting the numbers.
  • Coins: let children have access to coins for number/coin recognition, for playing shops with or simply for putting in and out of a money box or wallet/purse, which is a favourite activity for Master L.
  • Shapes: spot shapes wherever you are, talk about their names and properties.
  • Puzzles & Games: a huge range out there and a fun way for children to gauge concepts. As ever Orchard Toys have a superb range, available in many shops, through Amazon or directly You can often find games in supermarkets too, so have a look.
  • Playing Cards: can be used for number recognition, matching amounts to numbers,  to make number sentences, snap and times tables.
  • Magnets: number recognition, making number lines, ordering numbers or use to make number sentences.  maths-app
  • Apps: there are so many out there to choose from, but my absolute number 1 favourite for school aged children is Maths Primary- buy the whole bundle as its brilliant and links with the UK Maths curriculum.


Winter Wisdom

Jack Frost has become a favourite character in our house at the ice-1moment and as soon as it gets light Master L inspects his damage through the windows! There is something magical about waking up to a glistening, icy scene and the adventures that lie ahead, all thanks to an imaginary man who works his freezing magic overnight. Don’t be afraid to still take learning outdoors, just wrap up warm and enjoy all winter has to offer. Below are some winter themed learning ideas for both indoors and outdoors.


Make snowflakes using paper, card, glitter or glue. Folding a paper circle and cutting bits out is also a quick and effective way to create a snowflake, as well as developing scissor skills. You could extend this activity through counting how many you’ve made or ordering them in size.

Build snowmen using marshmallows and spaghetti. Super fun and brilliant for designing, problem solving, creative thinking and motor skills. ice-2

Snow writing- use either salt or shaving foam in a tray to practise any form of writing or simple mark making. Very sensory and lots of messy fun!

Read winter themed stories and talk about the scenery, clothes, weather and things you can do in the winter reflecting on the stories read.

Cook- find warming drinks and food recipes to prepare together. Hot chocolate or soup are simple and fun for children to make as well as to taste! Cooking develops so many skills including; reading, taking turns, following instructions, fine motor skills, number concepts, speaking and listening and working together. Usborne have some fantastic child friendly cookbooks or my favourite one for smallies is ‘The Tickle Finger Cookbook’ by A.Woolmer:


Go on a nature journey, see what you can find, collect your treasures and make them into a nature journey stick or nature garland when you get home. The landscape may look bare, but its amazing how much you can find if you look closely.

Ice cubes: use ice cubes to build igloos or use them to create a wintery imaginary play area with animal figures such as penguins. Experiment to see how long ice cubes take to melt – great for making predictions, observations and evaluations. Painting on ice cubes is great for exploring texture, colour and colour mixing.

If you have freezer space, try freezing a variety of small plastic toys such as figures in a block of ice. Take it outside once frozen with toy tools and enjoy an icy excavation activity! Great for fine motor skills.

Walks- “We are going on an icy adventure,” sounds so much more exciting than “We are going on a walk.” Look and discuss what has happened to the landscape, how weather changes things such as puddles, leaves and trees. Look and listen out for any signs of bird or animal life. Frozen tracks are a firm favourite of Master L’s at the moment. Play ‘guess the track?’ Tractors, animal prints or a vehicle’s tracks are much more clear once they’ve been frozen! ice-3

Frost- make tracks of your own in the frost using footprints or toys. Frost on the car is great for chilly icy writing practise.

Make bird feeders- so many simple recipes out there to help those poor cold birds find something to eat. Helps children to understand about caring for birds and they’ll love watching feathered friends enjoying their tasty homemade snacks. Check out these brilliant ideas




Summer Learning

The holidays are well under way and I’m sure you aren’t being driven too crazy by all your little imagelearners quite yet! The summer holidays is traditionally very long and it is very common for children to have an educational ‘dip’ between finishing the summer term and starting their new academic year in September. There are many fun filled learning opportunities to encourage your child to keep their focus, concentration and learning brain alive as well as having a well earned rest this summer. These ideas are great for problem solving, critical thinking, independent learning, reading, writing, mathematical, fine and gross motor skills.

Outdoors: scavenger hunts, creating nature pictures, taking photographs of scenes, bug hunts, make an assault course, create a nature diary, explore new places, collect objects for a nature potion or flower petals for perfume, make and create a picnic, explore the many opportunities local National Trust properties have on offer for children this holiday.

Water Play: make bubbles, create a car/tractor/toy/dolly wash, use different objects for imagepouring/filling/collecting, create water shoots/slides for toys, experiment with floating and sinking objects, freeze small toys in ice blocks and then excavate them out.

Writing: use outdoor chalks, paints, sand, shells, seaside finds for name/word writing, write postcards to family, friends or godparents, create a holiday journal with leaflets, photos and memories, lists for packing, shopping lists, write instructions for making nature potions/perfume.

Reading: explore your local library, listen to story cd’s especially on long journeys, create a book together, sort through books and find stories you haven’t read for a while, look at recipe books, make up stories about places you visit, swap books with friends, set up a reading challenge, read maps and plan journeys, goo on a sound/letter/word hunt.

imageMaths: count objects,  make sand towers and count in 2’s, 5’s or 10’s, explore new recipes and make them, lay the table, count out objects ready for a picnic, shape hunts, sing number songs, make patterns with paint, shells, outdoor finds, go on a number hunt, label with numbers and fill containers with objects, play hide and seek for counting practise.

Other: dance, create songs, make musical instruments, try new foods, discover a new park/beach/place, enjoy a local pick your own, camp out in your garden, make a den, make a memory book, visit local events and attractions, try out a new sport and most of all have a super fun time.

Excuse the upcoming pause, Master L is about to become a big brother, but please keep following us, our ideas and activities, which will be updated as often as possible. 

Festive Learning

After a super long term, the Christmas holidays are upon us. Exhausted and over excitable smallies can be a imagerecipe for disaster. This time of year is madly busy with visitors, family to see and often lots of travelling. Below we share some festive themed learning activities for you to enjoy as a family.

Reading: get relatives to read stories- new voices are always fun, let your child read to you, enjoy Christmas stories, listen to story cds, allow siblings/cousins etc to read to each other, read cards, read cracker jokes, read recipes and newspapers or magazines.

Writing: letters to Father Christmas, thank you letters for presents, shopping lists, name writing for place names, Christmas cards, menus, gift tags, write jokes for crackers or a holiday journal.

Maths: Christmas baking, count decorations, make Christmas patterns with colours, paint or stickers, laying the table, shape hunts, play adding and subtraction oral games, board games or sing number songs. image

Other thoughts: Christmas crafts, museum visits, explore local National Trust properties and their festive themes, visit Father Christmas,  make a photo journal, set up a Christmas themed competition, put on a play, play charades, collect greenery and make a wreath, research some Christmas traditions from around the world, make and try some Christmas food from a different culture, go carol singing, make a board game, junk modelling or den making using the many present boxes! Most importantly have fun and recharge your batteries for 2016.



Little Learning Seeds wishes you and your families all a very Happy Christmas.

We look forward to returning in the New Year with lots more inspiration.

Fun with Sums

The thought of Maths makes many parents feel rather unwell! I too never found Maths easy at school. Having image
now taught Maths to a variety of ages, I have become much more confident myself, as well as realising the importance of making it real rather than an abstract concept for all ages. Hands on, fun filled, resource based activities and ideas really help the understanding and grasping of mathematical concepts. This week I’m sharing activities involving early addition and subtraction concepts. I hope you don’t shy away from Maths based activities, but rather embrace them with your little learners.


Ideas for counters: toys, pencils, pasta, Cheerios, Lego, buttons, leaves, conkers, marshmallows, fingers, bottle lids, coins, beads.

Language to use: plus, add, total, more, subtract, take away, minus, less, equals, makes, altogether.

  • Playdoh: make playdoh numbers & match objects to the numbers or make sums using playdoh.
  • Number Spider: draw a spider templets with 8 legs, place counters on the legs and add them up.
  • Number Angel: drawn an angel and use counters on each side of her wings to create an addition sum.
  • Chalk: use chalk to write out simple addition and subtraction sums. Chalk is great to use on a big scale outside, why not try making a giant number line and jumping up and down it for helping with adding and taking away questions.
  • Outside: whenever you are outside use objects to count, add up together or take away. image
  • Word problems: whenever you are on journeys ask your child word problems such as “I can see 3 buses, if 2 more came along how many would there be?” or “There were 20 monkeys in a tree, 5 swung away, how many are left?” These really help children to be able to interpret problems and  also be able to choose which operation (plus or minus) to use.
  • Number Machine: make a machine out of a box, make some operation cards (eg +5 or -7) feed the machine with a number card and the child has to find the answer card.
  • Playing Cards: use cards randomly to add together or take away.
  • Skittles: add numbers onto skittles, hit them down and add the numbers up. You can always use plastic bottles as skittles.
  • Songs: 10 Green Bottles, 5 Little Ducks, 5 Little Speckled Frogs, This Old Man, Hickery Dickery Dock, 12345 Once I caught a Fish are all brilliant songs with a number theme.
  • Pegs: write sums on pegs and then children peg them onto answer cards.
  • Colour by Number: create colour by numbers with addition & subtraction sums as the questions. image
  • Hot Chocolate Maths: use mini marshmallows as counters for some simple sums, then enjoy eating them up!


Playdoh Love

We love playdoh! Probably one of the most useful resources and my trusty teaching bag of tricks never goes imageout without a pot of it. Brilliant for all ages, easy to make, comes in different colours, has so many uses, it’s therapeutic, sensory and most of all fun. My husband used to despair at me, the night before term started and the playdoh making box came out! This week Master L and I decided it was time to make playdoh, we had so much fun together and I forgot quite how easy it really is and lasts for so long.

Playdoh is easily available to buy on the high street; however do try making it together with your little learners. I have used lots of different no cook recipes, but the brilliant people at The Imagination Tree certainly have the best recipe:

Ideas to enhance learning with playdoh:

  • Make names, spelling words or tricky/sight/high frequency words. image
  • Make numbers out of it.
  • Make shapes.
  • Use it to show or make simple fractions. Create a playdoh pizza or cake, cut into halves, thirds, quarters etc
  • Create patterns using cutters, shapes, colours or tools.
  • Develop fine motor skills through rolling, cutting, squidging, pinching, chopping, poking, squeezing and pulling.
  • Knife skills, brilliant for developing knife skills, how to hold and handle a knife. Master L is obsessed by “cutting up” so this is a great solution with a plastic knife! image
  • Mark making using fingers, playdoh tools or simple utensils and cutlery.
  • A tool for story planning. Use it with older children to create figures and scenarios to act out before story writing. This can provide many ideas and inspiration for writing.
  • Use it to make letters to help with reversals, eg p, d, b.
  • Make and create objects, animals, buildings, food etc which can then be used for imaginative play and building on creativity.
  • Explore textures by stamping objects into it. Look at and feel different textures made. Try using the following to create different textures: stick a bricks, lego, buttons, pine cones, coins or pasta shapes. image
  • A therapeutic, calming and soothing resource.
  • Matching prints- use toy animals to print into the playdoh then match the object to the print. With older children you could use magnetic letters to imprint and little learners could match the letters to the prints.
  • You are never too old for playdoh, used with a 1,5 and 9 year old this week!




Smart Start

Smart Start Read & SpellMaster L and I were out and about this week and stumbled across these fantastic learning resources, which I had to share. Packed full of activities, games and learning opportunities, these Smart Start learning pads are well worth buying. Smart Start PhonicsWith the Easter holidays fast approaching, these pads will keep children entertained for hours, as well as providing a huge range of fun learning experiences. Smart Start MathsEach pad is large and covers Letters and Numbers, Phonics, Maths Puzzles and Read and Spell. Perfect for Ages 3-5 approx. Available in store at The Works (£2.99 each) or online at  where you can pick up the bundle of 4 (£8.99).Attachment-1 (1)


Learn with Lego

Lego is a major hit with most children. From a young age children enjoy using building blocks to create all sorts of wonderful inventions. Over the last few months I have seen, tested and been sent all sorts of brilliant ideas using Lego to aid learning. I’m sure the Lego inventors never thought that their timeless product would be so versatile, but from the list below it certainly is! lego alphabet

Reading books: Lego along with Dorling Kindersley have published early reading books using Lego characters. A brilliant theme for those reluctant boy readers. Available online or

Word Building: use Duplo blocks as individual letter sounds with either permanent marker or sticky labels. Brilliant then for hands on word building. Great for learning spellings, practising early blending and segmenting skills for reading words or even building an alphabet strip. Write those tricky sight words on bricks and build a tricky word wall.

Patterns: building blocks provide endless opportunities for following given patterns, building pattern towers or creating own patterns.Lego spellings

Sequencing: Lego has visual instructions, which are brilliant for teaching children to follow a sequence to an end result.

Sorting: using a mixture of Lego, Duplo or building blocks see how children will sort them. Categorising and grouping is part of the early years curriculum and you’ll be surprised how many inventive ways little people can sort! Colour, size, shape, likes or even dislikes etc.

Maths: endless opportunities for visual hands on learning. Build tower sequences to continue, make number lines or towers, write simple sums on blocks and find the answer to match, make a bar graph using Lego blocks, use blocks as counters, make fraction towers, (write a fraction on each block and make towers i.e. 3 blocks for thirds) use blocks for measuring in non standard units e.g. how many Lego bricks high is the table?Block number line

Construction: brilliant for developing fine motor skills and inspiring a visual for story writing. Try making a Lego rainbow, buildings, scenes, a maze for a Lego figure or a Lego marble run.

Fine Motor Skills: use chop sticks/giant tweezers to pick and place blocks, try using pipettes to pick up and place water in Duplo holes, build towers as high as you can, balance marbles on Duplo holes, make and copy a Lego shape or make and trace a Lego shape.


A Monday Find!

Master L loves a trip to the supermarket, much more than his mother! We are major Help with homeworkfans of Aldi and you never quite know what you may come across in those middle aisles of surprises! This morning we came across some fantastic ‘Help with Homework’ flipchart booklets at the bargain price of £1.99. A fun, colourful flipchart resource to help with subtraction, times tables, addition, animals, shapes or sounds. So a range of topics covered for different stages of learning. Great for aiding mental maths skills on journeys, boredom busting moments or propped up on the table whilst waiting for tea to be ready. Notes for parentsThey even come with useful notes for parents, which is always an added bonus. I know a certain little learner who I see this afternoon will love my new ‘subtraction’ resource and I look forward to putting it in action.

Spring Into Time

The concept of time is a challenge for most little people. Time is not only about telling the time, a skill which gets taught normally from Year 1. Time concepts, such as seasons, days of the week, months of the year and birthdays are introduced to children throughout the early years and make up the foundations of time understanding. Master L and I spend lots of time outside and there are so many signs of Spring on it’s way.  Here in the UK, Spring is such a wonderful season and the signs and symbols are so visible for even very young children. From lambs bouncing in fields, snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils sprouting to longer days, frogspawn and warmer air, a perfect time to talk about seasons. Here are some fun easy ways to introduce early time concepts to little 1

  • Always talk about which day of the week it is. Make it a morning routine activity. Ask children before they go to bed what day will it be tomorrow when they wake up.
  • Talk about months of the year, count them, name them. This is a good introduction to seasons too.
  • Make a seasons wheel, using pictures, nature bits and bobs, paint, colours or craft. Discuss and research what happens in each season i.e. weather, animals, flowers, trees etc.
  • Identify special days i.e birthdays, festivals, celebrations. Talk about them, teach your child their birthday from an early age, remember this is such a special day for them. Make countdowns to events, make them visible and let children mark off the days.
  • Show children your diary or calendar, what the days and dates are and how they work.
  • Children understand the concept of time in relation to ‘sleeps’ very well, so explain an event coming up or a visit somewhere for example like this: “We are going to Granny’s house in 2 sleeps.”
  • Use everyday time language with your child: morning, afternoon, lunchtime, teatime, evening, night time, before, after, next week, next month etc.
  • Use a specific song or a large egg timer (available at Early Learning Centre) for children to tidy up their toys to.
  • Beat the clock/kitchen timer games e.g. How many times can you run up the stairs? How many star jumps can you do? How many times can you write your name?

Some fun resources we have found: