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Maths Zone

Helping your child learn Maths at home

This web page provides some examples of everyday activities with a mathematical link to help and support your child at home.

Quick links:
In the Kitchen | Around the house | Outside | In the street | Doing the washing | Time | Food | Going shopping | Measuring | Shapes | Playdough | Games | Number rhymes and songs | Internet maths games

In the kitchen 

• Ask children to help you when cooking - children could count the ingredients out or even measure some ingredients ready to use in the recipe. Children will love this even more if there is something to eat at the end!

• Choose two tins or packets from your food cupboard. Ask your child to hold one in each hand and tell you which is heavier, and which is lighter. (Check by reading the weight on each tin or packet.) If he / she is right, they keep the lighter one. Then choose another item from the cupboard, trying to find one that is lighter still. Carry on until your child has found the lightest item in the cupboard. It might be suitable to eat as a prize!

Around the house:

• Children love to compare their heights so mark their height on the wall so children can see how much they grow in a few months.

• Children could weigh themselves and keep a chart of their weight.

• Hand sizes – Draw around your child’s hand and cut out of paper. How many hands is the sofa? How long is the table? Which one is longer? This is a simple way of measuring without a ruler.


• Children could paint on concrete or slabs with water and then measure their patterns or shapes with a tape measure. If it is expected to rain, use chalks on the concrete as it easily washes off!

• Create an obstacle course with hoops and ropes and measure the distance in steps, hands or by tape measure.


In the street

• Recognising bus numbers

• Number plate hunt. Who can find a 7? Add the numbers up.

• Comparing door numbers

• Counting – how many lampposts on the way to school?



• What day is it yesterday, today, tomorrow?
• Use timers, phones and clocks to measure short periods of time.
• Count down 10/ 20 seconds to get to the table/ into bed etc.
• Recognising numbers on the clock. If you cover a number, what number was missing?


• Are you taller than a …?
• Marking height on the wall.
• Cut hand shapes out of paper. How many hands long is the couch? How long is the table? Which is longer?
• Who has the biggest hands in our family?
• How many steps from the gate to the front door? 


Here’s a simple recipe:
1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Half a cup of salt
food colouring and essences (optional)
Put all ingredients in a large saucepan, and heat slowly, stirring all the time until it forms a ball. Keep it wrapped in clingfilm or in a covered tub to stop it drying out.

Then …
• Make numerals and shapes
• Sort shapes into groups, or order by size
• Make long and short wiggly snakes.


Doing the washing

• Counting in 2s – matching shoes
• Sorting by colour and size.
• Matching/pairing up socks.
• Find four shoes that are different sizes. Can you put them in order.

Going shopping

• Reading price tags
• Counting items into the basket
• Finding and counting coins
• Comparing weights – which is heavier




• Putting cards into piles
• Jigsaws (you can make your own by cutting up a magazine picture)
• Snap (matching pairs) or Happy Families (collect 4 of a kind)
• Snakes and ladders or other simple dice games.
• Adding numbers on two dice.
• Bingo, with numbers or shapes
• Hopscotch

Yes/No game
The first person thinks of a number within a specific range (e.g. between 0 and 20). The second person has to guess the number by asking questions. However they may only ask questions to which the answer is yes or no. Try to discourage random guesses by developing logical thinking and good questioning strategies. Some good questions might include, ‘Is it more than 10?’ or ‘Is it an even number?’

Number noughts and crosses
This game is played like noughts and crosses but with the use of the numbers 1 to 9. The first player has the odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9) and the second player the even numbers (2,4,6,8). The person with the odd numbers begins the game. The aim of the game is to make a row, column or diagonal add up to a total of 15. The player who places the final number to do this is the winner.

Snakes and ladders – some variations
• Throw a dice. Work out what number you will land on. If you are correct you can move that number of spaces. If you are wrong you can’t move.
• Play the same game again but backwards (starting at 100 and taking away the number shown on the dice).
• Play the same game, but if you land on a multiple of 10 you get an extra turn.

Dice & card games

Dice game

Don’t be Greedy

This is a good game to practice addition to 100 (or a smaller number). To play you need to throw two dice and add the scores together. Each player can continue to throw the dice as many times as they choose in order to build up their own personal score. However if they throw a 1 their score for that turn is wiped out, and if they throw a double their total score within the game is wiped out. The winner is the first person to gain a total score of 100 or more. This game can be simplified by the use of only one dice and a smaller total score to win the game.

Card games

For younger children you may want to make a set of cards with both objects and numbers on them (0 to 10).

This is a game for any number of players. Two cards are shown to all the players. The first person to shout out their sum wins the cards. The player who gains the most cards wins the game.

This is played in the same way as addsnap, but players have to call out the total of the cards when they are multiplied.

Guess the pair
The cards are all laid out, face up in five rows of eight. The dealer chooses two cards, which are next to each other either horizontally or vertically, and calls out their sum (or their product). The first player to point to the correct pair wins them. This player then chooses the next pair.

Remove the jacks and kings from a pack of cards. Spread the cards upside down on the table. Take it in turns to turn two over. If they add up to 10 you keep them. The queen counts as a 0.



Maths activities

• Saying number rhymes
• Sharing sweets etc
• Checking their own height and weight
• Helping to weigh ingredients in the kitchen
• Looking for shapes all around them
• Learning the order of the days, months, seasons
• Knowing the time of daily events – school times, bedtimes, the times of favourite TV programmes
• Counting pocket money
• Checking the change received when buying something at a shop
• Estimating how much some shopping is going to cost
• Playing games. Many of the commercially produced games you have got at home have a mathematical context e.g. snakes and ladders, ludo, nought and crosses, dominoes.

Learning mathematics is like learning a language – children need to become fluent - so you might also want to help them to learn and remember some number facts by heart.

Children need to be comfortable doing two things: adding multiples of ten (20, 30, 40 etc) and knowing off by heart the pairs of numbers which make 10 or 20 (4 + 6, 14 + 6, 2 + 8, 12 + 8, etc).

There are two ways of subtracting. In the first way, we count backwards or take something away. So to do 34 – 6, we would take away 6 from 34. In the second way of subtracting, we count on from one number to the next. So to do 43 – 37, we would count on from 37 to 43. Children need to look at the numbers involved and to be able to select the most appropriate method.

Multiplying and dividing
By Year 4 children need to begin to know as many table facts as possible. Start with the 2s, 5s and 10s. The next table to be learnt is the nine times-table, and then their three times-table.


• Can you cut your toast into 4 pieces? Can you cut it into triangles?
• Setting the table. Counting the right number of plates etc. How many more do we need?
• Can you make shapes/ patterns out of the knives and forks. Can you put them in the right place in the drawers?
• Helping with the cooking by measuring and counting ingredients.
• Setting the timer.
• Positional language at dinner time: what is on the rice, where are the carrots etc?


• Cut a potato into shapes (circles, triangle etc). Use with paint to make pictures and patterns.
• Cut out shapes from coloured paper/ newspaper and arrange into pictures.
• Shape hunt: Can you find a square in your house (windows etc), a circle …

Number rhymes and songs

Eg: 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mummy called the doctor and the doctor said
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”
4 little monkeys jumping on the bed …

Your child can teach you lots more or try this website which has the words and sings it for you: