5 Key Maths Skills to Practise with Preschool Children

Starting out with maths can seem a pretty daunting challenge for any pre-school age child and for their grown ups! But it’s worth noting that good foundations for mathematics are based on a good understanding of numbers mixed with a bit of confidence! Here are 5 key maths activities for 3 -5 year olds to explore and practise in order to help them become confident with maths…


1. Number Recognition

An important first step, looking at numbers and the different places these can be found, will help your child understand the connection between the sound of the number and the appearance of the number. 

When out and about look at numbers on buses and repeat the sound of the number whilst looking at the written number. Out and about do the same with house numbers. 

Use activity books to spend some time sitting down with a child looking at how numbers are formed by tracing numbers with your fingers. Grown ups first and then encourage children to copy you before repeating, this time with pencils to draw in the numbers.

learn numbers for preschool children

Top Tip – use chubby or large diameter pencils for children beginning to write. A larger pencil is much easier for small hands and will help them refine their fine motor skills.

2. Counting Up and Down 

It is important to understand the relationship numbers have with each other and the first step in this is counting up and down. Start with 1- 5, then 1 – 10 and when this is second nature try out 1- 20. Remember to count down as well as up as this will form the basis of subtraction as well as addition. Use counting songs as a way of introducing this to children and turn climbing steps into a fun counting up and down game when out and about.

Our My Activity Books pack for Age 3+ includes activities designed to support preschool children in early years numeracy.

3. One More One Less

Looking at numbers and what happens if you add one more or if you take one away. This leads to the first steps in addition and subtraction. Pick a number, maybe when out and about on a bus or a house number and ask a child what number they would have if they added one more and then again if they had one less.

kids learning book pre-school maths book

4. Grouping and Sorting

Put simply sorting items into groups with similar elements. This could be the fruit bowl or perhaps some toys sorted by colours or size. See which groups have the most items by counting them and discuss which groups have less, using the groups to explore quantities and what these look like in groups.

5. Shapes

Understanding shapes will help a child connect with the world around them. Turn a supermarket trip into a ‘hunt the shape’ game. Or enjoy time in the park collecting sticks and making shapes with them. 

Use activity books to further embed understanding of different shapes and how these appear on a flat page.


Make these 5 key maths activities for 3 – 5 year olds a regular part of your daily time spent with children and they will flourish with the foundations of maths. Our top tip for all educational activities…encouragement for any effort will go a long way.


We hope you found this article of interest. You may be interested in Why Learning Through Doing Is So Important

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