This fun activity is perfect for space topics and give preschool and reception children the opportunity to focus on mathematical problem solving by exploring using small world play.
You could include a variety of resources including:
- A tray
- Coloured sand
- Stones (moon rock)
- cardboard tubes made into space rockets
- Metal bowls
- Toy rockets, astronauts (e.g. lego or playmobil people) etc
- Weighing equipment
- Glass gems
- Numbers on stars, moons, rockets or similar
- Bun tins and or cake cases (craters)
All items should be risk assessed to ensure that they are suitable and safe for use by the children.
- Counting and sorting objects (people, asteroids, moon rock etc.)
- Addition and subtraction using objects
- Sharing and grouping objects
- Reading numerals and matching to quantities of objects
- Positional language (e.g. The astronaut is in front of the rocket.”)
- Ordering “asteroids” by size or weight
- Weighing sand, rocks etc.
These questions are great to get the children started…
- can you sort these …?
- Can you find this many (show number)…?
- Can you put these in order?
- How many different… can you find?
- What would happen if…?
Children’s experiences can be recorded using a camera and they can then be encourage to practice writing or mark making to describe what they have been doing.
- Use your observations to identify further opportunities the children will benefit from, such as adding different resources or increasing the number of objects to make the thinking more complex.
- This learning could also be supported in other areas of the setting, for example:
- Making rockets in the creative area.
- Books about space in the reading area.
- Building opportunities in the construction area.
- For further reading on developing mathematical problem solving in the Early Years, there are two excellent articles on the nrich website – Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years and Mathematical Problem Solving in the Early Years: Developing Opportunities, Strategies and Confidence
ELG12 Maths – Space, Shape and Measures:
Children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.
This post was written by Sam Collins
Sam teaches in Devon, and has over 20 years experience in primary education teaching Early Years, KS1 and KS2.