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Lockdown Day 34 – Sorting and counting

Numeracy and Arithmetic

The secret to unlocking the door to being ‘able’ to do Maths lies in the development of a solid foundation of mathematical skill sets that the brain can later build upon to do equations, algebra, geometry, calculus etc.

One core skill set required is sorting and patterning. This involves understanding relationships amongst sets, how sets are represented and how these can be analysed. This skill set allows children to understand the nature of maths as maths is all about rules and systems!


Sorting and patterning skills are generally developed in a sequential manner. The brain builds one skill onto the next. It is important that these skills are introduced in a concrete manner (using manipulatives) before the child is moved to paper tasks.


The young child particularly is gifted by nature with an innate need for order. Children start to build this skill set by comparing objects and matching like items.

This can be done with any household object. The children’s playrooms are a good place to start! There is so much that can be compared and matched.

* Tip out the contents of the toy box and match objects by colour, shape, or type.


Classification requires children to initially name attributes that allow items to fit within a group and then to move on to identifying attributes that exclude them from a group.

* You can, for example, classify your child’s Lego pieces with her/him. They are all Lego pieces. These can even be matched by colour (as above). What makes them different and allows them to be classified, is that some are 1×1 bricks, 1×2 bricks, 1×6 plates etc.

* Cars can also be classified in the same manner. Once they have been matched by colour, they can further be classified by type – sports car, truck etc.


Once the child has a foundation of comparing, matching, sorting and classifying, you can move on to the skill set of recognising and creating patterns. Patterning is very important in Maths – think about the patterns in addition, multiplication, division just to start!

Patterning can be done anywhere in the house.

* Popcorn kernels: create a pattern of 1 kernel, 2 kernels, 1 kernel, 2 kernels and ask the child to continue your pattern. You can adjust the difficulty level of this pattern according to the child’s ability.

* If you have different types of dried beans: create a pattern using the beans – white, black, speckled…


Too often we disregard these these early skill sets and push the children to pen and paper tasks before their brains are ready. Use these home days to give your children lots of opportunity to explore these concepts in a concrete and fun manner. This will what they will draw on later when they are required to create mathematical sets based on similarities and differences, categories and patterns!