How to Make Maths Cool for Your Kids

I hated Tuesdays and Thursdays at school…Double Maths in the afternoon on each day. Watching my teacher write examples of really long complicated sums on the board, without much explanation for the first 20 minutes and then given pages and pages of sums to do for the remainder hour and a half of the lesson. As a result I ended up with an aching hand, got demoted to the bottom class, never listened, never learnt anything and built up a fear of Maths which could have been avoided.

If only I had been taught in a way I related to and was fun I think it would have been so different.

So how can you as a parent avoid this trap with your children and give them the confidence with maths at an early age, even before they start school?

These tips were given to me by someone else that was deemed a failure when it came to Maths at school. She is now a Primary School teacher who loves maths and teaching it in a fun interactive way with her class.

The good news is you don't need to look far. Maths is around us everyday. Numbers, Shapes, Fractions… and if you follow some of these suggestions you and your child will benefit.

How your child will Benefit

It will give them confidence when it comes to numbers without feeling pressurised. Children who learn through fun activities are more likely to develop a lifetime love of learning.

How it can benefit you?

A lot of these games can be played anywhere and something you can keep up your sleeve and play at a moments notice… queuing, shopping, walking, half time at a sports event, on a car journey etc.

Here are 14 ways to practice Numbers that are around us everyday

1. Counting Cars, Windows, Doors, Trees, Flowers, Stairs and Steps.

number 1

Try this when you are walking somewhere with your kids, especially if they are adverse to it! My daughter is just about to turn 4 and we have a 10 minute walk to school each morning. I have been trying to ditch the pushchair but hadn't taken the plunge. One particular morning I told her she was walking and that we could count how many of a certain colour car, she chose pink, much to my amazement we spotted 1 pink car. Another time we counted the house numbers. As a result I was able to engage her and she completely forgot that she was walking.

2. Reading door numbers

Reading door numbers and finding number patterns eg. Odd and even numbers.

I used this one with my 8 year old whilst walking to school. He loved finding the patterns with the odd and even numbers. With my younger child gave me an opportunity to discuss the meaning of odd and even.

3. Looking at and Talking About Car Number Plates

You could discuss what the numbers mean and how to spot the age of a car. Or how about asking them to add up the numbers on the car number plates. Again this has worked for me walking to school, engage them and the whinging stops and you end up enjoying it together!

4. How Many Sleeps to an Exciting Event!

Buy a calendar for each of your children or a joint one. Mark down everyone's birthday in your family. Who's first, second, third etc. Start countdowns to each birthday.

5. Counting Scores in Sports.

How long left until the end of the match? How many times can they hit the ball to each other without missing? How many times can you throw a ball to each other without dropping it?

6. Using Food

eg Fruit to practice fractions. apple

This is a fun and easy way for your children to start understanding fractions. With fruit practice dividing it into half, thirds, quarters etc. You could use pasta shapes, potatoes, even packs of yoghurts which you break off. When they eat yoghurt ask them to break them up and make a tower.. each time they have one the tower will get smaller, hopefully this won't be in one go!


Get your child to make a necklace out of dried pasta and then ask them to count how pieces they have used. Some breakfast cereals with holes in the middle work well too.

Play Number Plates… using paper plates write a number on each. You can use pasta for this as well, you place the appropriate number on each plate. Then let your child have a go.

7. Singing Counting Songs

Five Little ducks went swimming one day over the pond and far away …..

Ten green bottles sitting on the wall but when one green bottle should accidentally fall there will be nine green…..

1,2,3.4.5 once I caught a fish alive 6,7,8,9,10 then I put it back again

There were 10 in a bed and the little on said… roll over… roll over… so they all rolled over and one felt there were 9 in the bed….etc..

8. Ordering Ages

Order the ages of your family from youngest to oldest of the other way round.

9. Laying the Table

How many plates do you need? There are plenty of other things you can count. How many people are having certain type of drink. How many people don't like sprouts!

10. Game - Think of a Number

You think of a number between say 1-20 and your child asks questions about the number and you can only say yes or no. Here's an example, the number I have thought of is 15…these are the type of questions you could ask:

Is it More Than 16?
Is it an odd number?
Can it be divided into 3 equal parts?
Has it got 2 digits?

and so on.. by asking questions the child gets to learn about different characteristics of numbers and if they are unsure of the meaning of any of the questions above you can start to explain it to them.

11. Toy Sorting

Many children have a collection of some sort of toy… lego, teddies, dolls, cars etc. Ask them to sort them into various colour groups. Line them up from Biggest to Smallest. See how many you can balance on top of each other.

12. Playing Board Games

There are many great counting games children enjoy or games that involve counting. These include Snakes & Ladders, Bingo, Monopoly, Top Trumps and Dominos.

13. Getting Ready

Getting ready to go out or get dressed "by the time I count to….."

This list is not exhaustive and can be adapted for different age groups.

What do You Think?

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