How Many? Calculating not Counting
Opportunities for maths learning are everywhere. Often, it's not the activity which is important - it is knowing which questions to ask. Many of the everyday tasks we do at home can provide meaningful 'in the moment' mathematical thinking.
In Early Years, children are taught to keep an accurate count by counting in ones. In Years 1 and 2, children can be asked how many there are altogether without counting in ones, so (usually at this stage) counting in 2s, 10s or 5s. With this seed tray during gardening, Harry (Y1) found the total by counting along the rows in 5s. Having this array structure of equal rows and columns also allowed him to see 4 groups of 10 so he is self-discovering the idea that he can double his 5 times table to get his 10s. In Years 3 and 4, children move from counting to calculating. Isla (Y3) calculated the total amount of pots by seeing 8 rows and 5 columns and used her 5 times table to solve 8x5=40. Moving to Year 4 and beyond, children are asked 'Could you do it another way?' For example, having a larger amount and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Or, in this example, calculating 4x5 and doubling it, or, 2x5 four times, etc.
Finding arrays of equal rows and columns at home feeds this discussion. And similarly, making arrays together leads to mathematical discussions, for example, this from a friend of mine after playing with her 8 year old twin boys...
There are loads of opportunities for this throughout the day - cooking, tidying, sorting, playing... No computers or worksheets needed!