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Our Approach

#325 Maths in Action – Little Learners Nursery

Jodie Young

What did we do?

The project began at a slow pace but after using some of the £2000 project money, for in house training, which was delivered to the staff in January. The training was interactive, sharing ideas and purposeful to our setting, and the staff became more aware of how to implement mathematical language and ideas in the nursery environment. The training was delivered after the staff completed a questionnaire, measuring the practitioners confidence levels.

The children actively engage in child led and adult led mathematical activities, ranging from shape positioning, bear sorting and ordering, measurements, number recognition, cooking activities, to name but a few.

The children share enthusiasm and motivation to learn, using the new resources, which have been purchased with the £2000 grant money. Resources include, numeracy resource trolley, which is designed to be used across the nursery, so the children can access the resources and transport around the nursery. Number logs, water tray, number blackboards, funnel sets, natural mathematical objects, safari animals, number books with puppets, as well as many other items were purchased, based around the children’s ongoing interests.

We have seen an increase in children’s positional language, number, and shape concepts, especially in the preschool children and identified that children in the setting are more engaged in their learning, when it is led by a practitioner. Some of the children are able to self-direct their play and learn independently, whereas others need support and some guidance.

“I put that one on there and it made a castle.”

“If this triangle goes next to this piece, it makes a chicken.”

“Look at my rocket with all these shapes.”

“I love baking with you. I need to take this home with me to eat.”

“I think we can add 3 more spoons to the bowl, then it will be ready.”

This is a sample of language that has been used by the children, whilst they have been participating in activities, or independently exploring.

Summary of impact

During learning walks, it has been observed that practitioners are actively more confident to deliver a mathematical activity during smaller key person group time activities. Practitioners are using more mathematical language through activities, such as comparing, ordering a sequence of events, looking at shapes and patters, using spatial position. This is continuing to allow the children’s learning to further develop.

The new resources have worked well in the setting, supporting the children to broaden their learning, interest, and curiosity, and has brought joy and excitement to mathematical learning in the setting. Most of the resources are in a specific area, developing an awareness for children that once finished, they need to go back, so they are well looked after in the setting, supporting children’s responsibility.

Pre school practitioners have used developmental matters statements for 3–4-year-olds, to track and guide their understanding of where key children are reaching these targets, may need support or are just showing interest. The practitioners are scaffolding mathematical learning for each child. For example, can your key child compare quantity language? If they need more support, then the key person can provide this through purposeful activities.

Allowing the practitioners to be involved in selecting what resources they felt would offer the most benefit in the setting, I felt allowed everyone to feel involved in decision making, which impacted the changes more significantly.

Steps taken

Mathematical learning and engagement in the setting was identified as a lower outcome area of learning achieved in a high number of children, through the data tracker which was collated last summer. This allowed the decision to be reached to support mathematical learning in the setting.

Practitioners were asked to select resources during team meetings, training was booked during a personal development day, so that all staff would be able to participate. This was an important factor to consider, as otherwise it may have allowed for staff to be less knowledgeable and to have a greater understanding of key numeracy concepts.

What would we do differently

If I were given the opportunity to lead this project again:

  • I would give staff more responsibility to meet certain targets and take accountability in delivering mathematical learning with their key children. I am aware that sufficient time in the setting did not allow for me to effectively scaffold best practice. Take accountability for their role and implement activities effectively.
  • I would also allow more time in the setting, observing staff and supporting their activities with children.
  • I have since reflected that I would set targets for staff, that they would need to reach monthly, to show what activities they have been putting into practice and to show outcome for each child in their key group.
  • I would encourage the use of resources, to be used for families in home learning packs, regularly being accessed for specific children.
  • I understand that this project cannot be led by one person and modelling best practice, hoping that staff will do the same, does not always work and to try your best in implementing changes into settings.


I used £350 of the money for CPD training for all the practitioners to be involved in an effective, purposeful, interactive session together, to share and build on ideas.

£1500 was used to purchase appropriate, well thought of resources to use with the children daily to scaffold their learning.

£150 was used towards the end to purchase home learning bags and some resources which we considered would be most effective for lots of children and could be adapted to suit the needs.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Developing literacy and numeracy teaching in an EY setting - Nature Den Nursery

Developing practitioner confidence in teaching early literacy and numeracy - Wellington Nursery

Making Maths Matter - St Helen's Playgroup

Implementing Maths into the Early Years Setting - ABC Childcare

Developing Literacy and Maths - Wigwams Nursery

Improving Literacy Skills - Early Years @ Highfield Whitehouse

Improving Maths as an Early Years Implementation Lead - Happy Tots Pre-School

Supporting Early Literacy - Rainbow Bright Nursery

Developing early numeracy and literacy - Daisy Chain Pre-School

Improving mathematical and literacy development in all areas of learning - Sunflowers Preschool, Ipswich

Improving Early Literacy - The Children's Triangle Nursery


Little Learners Nursery School

Jodie Young

Early Years Implementation Lead & Family Support Practitioner