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!