Using mathematical language

Using mathematics in real life situations

Problem solving

We aim for all children to participate in activities which help them develop and use their knowledge in numbers and shape, space and measures.  We use the following base for our curriculum and plan activities according to your child’s developmental stage and interests.



8-20 months Develops an awareness of number names through their enjoyment of action rhymes and songs that relate to their experience of numbers.

Has some understanding that things exist, even when out of sight.

16-26 months Knows that things exist, even when out of sight.

Beginning to organise and categorise objects, e.g. putting all the teddy bears together or teddies and cars in separate piles.

Says some counting words randomly.

22-36 months Selects a small number of objects from a group when asked, for example, ‘please give me one’, ‘please give me two’
Recites some number names in sequence.
Creates and experiments with symbols and marks representing ideas of number
Begins to make comparisons between quantities
Uses some language of quantities, such as ‘more’ and ‘a lot’
Knows that a group of things changes in quantity when something is added or taken away
30-50 months


Uses some number names and number languages spontaneously
Uses some number names accurately in play
Recites numbers in order to 10
Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set
Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures
Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly
Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions
Compares two groups of objects, saying when they have the same number
Shows an interest in number problems
Separates a group of three or four objects in different ways, beginning to recognise that the total is still the same
Shows an interest in numerals in the environment
Shows an interest in representing numbers
Realising not only objects, but anything can be counted, including steps, claps or jumps
40-60+ months Recognise some numerals of personal significance
Recognises numerals 1 to 5
Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item
Counts actions or objects which cannot be moved
Counts objects to 10, and beginning to count beyond 10
Counts out up to six objects from a larger group
Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10
Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects
Estimates how many objects they can see and checks by counting them
Uses the language or ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects
Finds the total number of items in two groups by counting all of them
Says the number that is one more than a given number
Finds one more or one less from a group of up to five objects, then ten objects
In practical activities and discussion, beginning to use the vocabulary involved in adding and subtracting
Records, using marks that they can interpret and explain
Begins to identify own mathematical problems based on own interests and fascinations
  Shape, Space and Measure

8-20 months Recognises big things and small things in meaningful contexts.

Gets to know and enjoy daily routines, such as getting-up time, mealtimes, nappy time, and bedtime.

16-26m Attempts, sometimes successfully, to fit shapes into spaces on inset boards or jigsaw puzzles.

Uses blocks to create their own simple structures and arrangements.

Enjoys filling and emptying containers.

Associates a sequence of actions with daily routines.

Beginning to understand that things might happen ‘now’.

22-36 months Notices simple shapes and patterns in pictures
Beginning to categorise objects according to properties such as shape or size
Begins to use the language of size
Understands some talk about immediate past and future, e.g. ‘before’ ‘later’ or ‘soon’
Anticipates specific time-based events such as mealtimes or home time
30-50 months


Shows an interest in shape and space by playing with shapes or making arrangements with objects
Shows awareness of similarities of shapes in the environment
Uses positional language
Shows interest in shape by sustained construction activity or by talking about shapes or arrangements
Shows interest in shapes in the environment
Uses shapes appropriately for tasks
Beginning to talk about the shapes of everyday objects, e.g. ‘round’ and ‘tall’
40-60+ months Beginning to use mathematical names for ‘solid’ 3D shapes and ‘flat’ 2D shapes, and mathematical terms to describe shapes
Selects a particular named shape
Can describe their relative position such as ‘behind’ or ‘next to’
Orders two or three items by length or height
Orders two items by weight of capacity
Uses familiar objects and common shapes to create and recreate patterns and build models
Uses everyday language related to time
Beginning to use everyday language related to money
Orders and sequences familiar events
Measures short periods of time in simple ways