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Early Learning and Development: Mathematics

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

We built the learning journey area of Onoco inspired by the EYFS to help parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s development, and to explore together the wide range of milestones we can celebrate in our families.

In the latest of our Early Learning and Development focus series, we’re looking at Mathematics!

The mathematics area of the EYFS is designed to support children in building a strong foundation in mathematical understanding - that is, to be able to understand numbers, counting and basic calculations; to recognise and describe shapes, patterns and relationships between objects; to measure and compare quantities, sizes and lengths; to be able to use mathematical language and concepts; and to ultimately enjoy and be curious about mathematics!


This is where our little ones have the opportunity to explore and develop their understanding of mathematical concepts through play-based activities, such as counting, sorting, matching, and comparing.

0-11 months

  • Sing number rhymes, such as ‘one, two, buckle my shoe!’

  • Move together to rhythms, to recognise patterns in familiar songs and rhymes

8-20 months

  • Encourage tapping and clapping to simple rhymes

  • Provide small groups of the same objects in ‘treasure baskets’, like shells and fir cones, to count together

16-26 months

  • Use number words in everyday contexts, like how many mittens your little one is wearing

  • Talk about maths in everyday situations, like how many buttons a coat has

  • Provide collections of objects that can be sorted in different ways

22-36 months

  • Play games which relate to number order, addition and subtraction, like hopscotch and skittles

3-50 months

  • Include counting money and change in role-playing games

  • Use pictures and objects to illustrate counting songs, rhymes and number stories

  • Give your little one a reason to count, for example by asking them to choose the right number of puppets or toys to share with friends

40-60+ months

  • Encourage estimate, for example how many sandwiches you need at lunch for the whole family

  • Show interest in how they solve problems

  • Encourage them to count the things they see, and to use numbers beyond 10.


Here, our little ones are learning about shape, to help with visual perception skills and recognition of shape properties; about space, to help with spatial awareness as well as distance, direction, and location; and measure, to understand units like length, weight and volume.

0-11 months

  • Encourage explorations of the characteristics of objects

8-20 months

  • Play games that involve curling, stretching, popping up and ducking down

  • Talk about what objects are like and how they can change

  • Look at books showing objects of different sizes

16-26 months

  • Use tidy up time to promote logic and reasoning about where items can fit

  • Highlight patterns in daily activities and routines

  • Offer a range of puzzles to support success in fitting shapes into spaces

22-36 months

  • Draw attention to patterns, such as with tablecloths or sheets, and the different ways they can be folded

  • Provide opportunities for the measurement of time, weight and length

  • Use coins for sorting into bags, purses and containers

30-50 months

  • Demonstrate the language for shape, position and measurements in everyday conversation

  • Play games involving positioning toys inside, behind, on top and so on

  • Show pictures that have symmetry or pattern and talk to me about them

40-60+ months

  • Ask ‘silly’ questions, like can a bicycle fit inside this tiny box?

  • Introduce the concept of 3D and 2D objects for proper identification

  • Encourage the use of everyday words about positioning, like when following paths or playing with outdoor equipment.


Ready to get started on your own Onoco learning journey? We have over 460 milestones available to celebrate, broken down into age appropriate categories, each with their own hints and tips similar to those we’ve listed here…

You can even get those tips delivered directly to your profile with Onoco Premium.

Better yet, when you’re marking off your milestones, you can add photos to share with your connected family accounts so everyone can get involved in the celebrations!

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