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Using and applying mathematics : Early Years : Mathematics Content Knowledge

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Early Years
Using and applying mathematics
Question 1 of 8

1. How confident are you that you can provide opportunities through play so that children can:

a. solve problems?


Children need opportunities to identify and solve problems in many settings.

Using flat and curved bricks in block play helps children to explore properties of 3D shapes while building a tower.

Dry sand, with water which they can add at will, enables them to decide on a suitable consistency for wet sand to make sand castles.

Give children lots of opportunities to share items equally amongst different group sizes.

Additional User Example

The teacher can use the outdoor environment to provide opportunities for developing problem solving skills. On a walk they can sort a particular group of things according to their properties: for example, vehicles with different numbers of doors or vehicles of different colours. In the garden they can look at different insects: for example those that can fly and those that cannot fly.

Additional User Example

Children can play a game trying to guess the name of a 3d shape that is being held in a bag by another child. They will use knowledge of the properties of shapes, to ask questions about the shape.  The child holding the shape can only answer yes or no.  How many questions does it take to guess the shape correctly?

Additional User Example

Children could guess a number form clues given by the teacher or another child. For example "it is one more than one but two less than four (2).

Additional User Example

When children do role play, problem solving opportunities always available.
For example when you set up a post office they will be sorting letters and parcels by their shape, size, colour and weight.

Additional User Example

The children could count articles in the room for a real purpose.  For example, if each pupil has a chair to sit on in the room and there are no spare chairs, the teacher could ask how many cups do we need to put on the tables for the pupils at snack time.

Additional User Example

Use materials of varying weight, but similar size, such as paper, cardboard, wood, plastic and felt, - use these materials to create a suspension bridge between two piles of books.
How many matchbox cars can the bridges hold before collapsing? Which is the strongest bridge?

What this might look like in the classroom

Make salt dough cookies or use commercial plastic ones.
Place 12 on a baking tray and invite children to share the cookies onto a specific number of plates. Start with 2, move on to 3, 4, 6 and 12.

Taking this mathematics further

Include some sharing scenarios where there are remainders, such as sharing 12 cookies onto 5 plates.

When sharing into two equal groups, use words such as ‘half each’ to link fractions and division.

Making connections

Children are able to share fairly from an early age. This is a very useful precursor to division, as is understanding that sometimes there will be some left over.

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