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Top Tips for Parents during Maths Week

Dr Pamela Moffett has developed a number of different techniques for parents to use when engaging their children with maths.

Dr Pamela Moffett from Stranmilils University College has a deep love of maths and a passion for sharing it. She has a number of suggestions for the parents among you who are interested in getting their kids involved in maths week but don't quite know how. Her tips are very broad and thorough, encompassing pre-school toddlers all the way up to late primary school kinds.


She kindly forwarded us on these suggestions so we can post them here:



Sorting experiences provide opportunities for children to explore the properties of objects and to observe similarities and differences between them. Use a range of everyday contexts:

  • Sorting clothes after washing (T-shirts, jumpers, trousers, dresses)
  • Sorting cutlery at mealtimes (knives, forks, spoons)
  • Sorting toy vehicles (cars, buses, lorries)

Matching items establishes a one-to-one correspondence between them and is an important prerequisite skill in learning to count. Useful activities include:

  • Pairing socks, shoes, gloves
  • Putting one cup on each saucer, one lid on each saucepan
  • Giving each teddy a biscuit

Engaging children in a range of stories, rhymes and songs offers opportunities to explore number and counting and other mathematical ideas such as sequencing, size and quantity, shape and space.

  • Rhymes and songs such as ‘One, two, buckle my shoe’, ‘One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive’ (counting forwards) and ‘Ten green bottles’, ‘Five little ducks went swimming one day’ (counting backwards)
  • Stories such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ (number), ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (days of the week), ‘Where’s Spot?’ (position)



Exploiting the mathematics inherent within a range of real-life experiences helps to make learning enjoyable and meaningful and enables children to appreciate the value of mathematics in everyday life and in preparing for the future.

Lower primary

Shopping experiences

  • Handling small amounts of money
  • Selecting coins to pay for goods
  • Working out the total cost of two or more items
  • Checking change
  • Comparing prices (which is more expensive?)
  • Talking about pocket money and whether there is enough saved to buy a particular treat


  • Ordering and sequencing events (when getting dressed, going to bed)
  • Setting the timer and counting down to bedtime
  • Talking about significant times (lunchtime, bedtime) and dates (birthdays, New Year)
  • Recording dates and appointments on a calendar or in a diary
  • Reading times, particularly on analogue clocks (clocks with hands)

Mathematics outdoors

  • Counting everything! (objects, actions, sounds)
  • Talking about directions (forwards, backwards, left, right)
  • Looking for patterns (bricks, windows, fences, paving)
  • Talking about shapes (road signs, buildings, statues)
  • Comparing sizes (items in the shopping basket, tools in the garden shed)
  • Exploring car number plates (odd and even numbers, numbers ending in 5 or 0)


  • Games involving matching, numbers and counting – Snap, Dominoes, Snakes and Ladders, hopscotch
  • Games involving calculating scores – Scrabble, bowling


Upper primary

Developing financial capability

  • Solving problems involving money
  • Discussing special offers (half price, 3 for the price of 2, 20% off)
  • Talking about ‘best buys’ (Is it better to buy a pack of six or six individual items?)
  • Planning ahead in terms of saving and spending; prioritising needs and wants
  • Discussing foreign currency

Time and distance

  • Reading analogue and digital times
  • Calculations involving passage of time (The journey takes 2 ½ hours. When will we arrive? The cake needs 40 minutes to bake. When will it be ready?)
  • Reading timetables (24 hour times)
  • Estimating how long it will take to travel a certain distance
  • Working out average speeds

Mathematics at home

  • Measuring ingredients for a recipe
  • Looking at the nutritional information on food packaging
  • Being involved in DIY tasks (calculating how much curtain fabric is needed, how many floor tiles)
  • Exploring weather data (temperature, rainfall) before going on holiday
  • Planning a menu or a family outing (estimating quantities, working out costs)


  • Games involving strategic thinking/logic – draughts, chess, Connect 4
  • Games involving money transactions – Monopoly"