Figure it Out

Figure it Out

Look around you. We are surrounded by numbers. With a little bit of imagination, you can create a whole host of activities to help your child's numeracy development. So go figure it out with some fun number play. Below are some great examples to get you going.

1. Park It – Ellie Boyd

Park the blue car in number 8, park the blue car in the red space or drive the green car to mum – toy cars, or animals or figures, can become a playful learning experience.

Learning intention

Develop recognition of numbers, colours or tricky words.


1. Make a car park using a large piece of paper, or on the ground outside using chalk, putting numbers, colours or words in the parking spaces.

2. Give you child a colour, number or word and ask them to park the car in the right parking space. When using the words, the children have to say the word in the space before parking in it.

3. The numbers could also be used as answers to sums for older children.


2. Sort the Bugs Amy Wood

A great activity to help with numeracy, sorting and counting coloured bugs into the correct pots.

Learning intentions

Extending children’s mathematical development through the sorting of coloured bugs and developing fine motor skills using tweezers.


1. Resources: soil, magnifying glass, tweezers, coloured bugs, pots with colour.

2. Put soil into a tray and hide some coloured bugs (or other coloured items) in the soil.

3. Encourage children to use the tweezers (or their hands) to sort the bugs into the correct coloured pots.


3. Number Ground Art – Mechelle Caughey

It’s not only a pencil and paper that can be used to write numbers. This activity will stretch your child’s imagination to create temporary numbers using materials such as stones, sticks, leaves and feathers.

Learning Intentions

Children will be provided with opportunities to develop their natural curiosity about numbers and counting using natural loose parts.


1. Draw numbers on a piece of cardboard or with chalk on the ground.

2. Give children a piece of paper with a number or dots on it and send them off on a hunt around the garden to collect natural loose objects to make the numbers or put the right number of items on the dots.

3. This will provide opportunities for mathematical discussion around the shape of numbers.

4. Get them to take a picture of their work and show it off to other family members and explain how they recognise and count numbers.


4. Feeding the Owls – Nicola Andrews

After making their own owls, children can feed the owls with pompoms (or different sized counters) using their fingers or tweezers (or even chop sticks) depending on ability.

Learning Intentions

To develop fine motor skills and encourage mathematical thinking including counting, size, colour and patterns (e.g. pompoms).


1. The owls can be made using coffee tins or something similar (ensuring they are safe to use).

2. The tins can be decorated using socks or scrap materials.  Children can help design and make the owls (or any creature they like).

3. Cut holes of different sizes into the lid of the tins (cover the lids with insulating tape to ensure there were no rough edges around the holes).

4. Encourage the children to use their fingers or the tweezers to feed the owls one pompom (or counter) at a time, noting the different sized holes.


5. Measure It – Oonagh McLaughlin

Learning intentions

To understand and use the language of comparison


1. Find an object close to hand – for example, a pen, pencil or book.

2. Challenge your child to find a bigger object or a smaller one, a longer or shorter one, a thinner or thicker object or  a heavier or lighter object.

3. Discuss and compare the objects that the child finds. How do they know that it is bigger, smaller? Do they need two hands or one hand to hold it? Is it bigger than their hand or can they fit it inside? Is it long or shorter than their little finger – what about their other fingers?

4. Words to use: big/bigger, small/smaller, long/longer, short/shorter, thin/thinner/, thick/thicker

5. How can we check? Using rulers, measuring tapes, scales?


6. Match it! – Oonagh McLaughlin

Learning intentions

To match shapes, number or letters.


1. Choose a shape/number/letter at the beginning of the day, e.g. the number 2.

2. Challenge your child to find this number on items throughout the home ,such as remote controls, post, books, labels, clocks, etc.

3. They could record this digitally by taking photographs. They could also record groups of 2 items, e.g. 2 tea cups, 2 toy cars, etc

4. Equally, you could take them on a number walk during their daily exercise where they could take notes of numbers in the environment such as on houses, bus stops, car registrations, etc. They could also record this digitally.


7. Post-it Challenge – Oonagh McLaughlin

Learning intentions

To examine and compare surface areas.


1. What things in your home can you cover with a post-it? What things are bigger than a post it? Can you record these? (drawing, writing a list, taking photos and sorting them into two albums on a phone/ipad).

2. How could you measure what the post-it will cover? (Using sugar cubes? Lego? Predict how many blocks you will need to cover items such as a seat/table/phone/box…. check to see if you were right)

3. Predict how many post-its would be needed to cover items. Include large items such as your bedroom floor/your quilt/your living room rug/the kitchen table/your whole house. Can you check? If you knew how many post-its would cover one brick, could you calculate how many were needed for a wall? or  your whole house?


8. Shape Sort Match –Traci Hefferon

Match shapes to their outline

Learning intentions

To encourage children to explore the properties of different shapes and match them to their outlines.


1. Find a selection of different shaped objects with your children.

2. Put the shapes on the ground or a piece of board and draw around their outline with chalk or a marker.

3. Mix the shapes up and encourage your children to find the shape that fits the outline.

4. Discuss the difference between shapes and compare their outlines using language such as large/small, long/short sides, curved/straight edges, etc.