As a group we have been implementing the below strategies across the EYFS phase.  We noticed that children often associated counting with rote counting out loud and not, as we’ve been doing, using maths in their enviroment e.g. counting jumps/steps/hops, or counting objects they put into their baskets in the role play shop.

During parent consultations we mentioned our ‘Mastery’ approach and because the parents were so enthused by the approach we have decided to compile a list of activity ideas that parents can use to support learning at home and email this to them.


Reys, Suydam, & Lindquist,(1984) explain that even if young children can recite the number sequence (i.e. say one, two, three, etc) we cannot assume that they can count small sets of objects. Learning to count involves learning several important principles:

  1. Each object to be counted must be given one and only one number name.
  2. The number name list must be used in a fixed order every time a group of objects is counted (i.e. you have to say 1, 2, 3, 4 in the same order each time).
  3. The order in which the objects are counted doesn’t matter. The child can start with any block and count them.
  4. The last number name used gives the number of objects in the set.
  5. The arrangement of the objects to be counted does not affect how many there are.


Indicator of progress

Students count the number of objects in a small set. Success depends on several understandings, one of the most important of which is using one-to-one correspondence.

While some students can recite the number sequence accurately (i.e. say 1, 2, 3, etc.) they have difficulty maintaining one-to-one correspondence when counting a set of objects.

Teaching strategies

The following activities involve students using all their senses to develop the co-ordination that is essential to one-to-one correspondence. That is, the teaching strategies use movement of the body, hearing sounds, using eyes and feeling with hands.

Activity 1: Counting and body movements provides several ideas to help to use one-to-one correspondence while counting movements using their bodies.

Activity 2: Counting sets of objects provides several ideas to help students to use one-to-one correspondence while counting concrete materials.

Activity 3: Matching the written number to the quantity provides several ideas to help students to use one-to-one correspondence while counting representations of objects.

Activity 4: Variations on counting suggests some very important counting variations.

These activities simultaneously extend students’ verbal counting skills and improve the use of one-to-one correspondence.



Reys, R., Suydam, M. & Lindquist, M. (1984) Helping children learn mathematics. New Jersey . Prentice-Hall