If I browse online at some of the resources available for pre-school learning, they usually fall into distinct categories, to learn about letters, shapes, colours or numbers, etc. I’ve noticed, though, that Little doesn’t think in this rigid way at all. He will happily flit from looking at ladybirds to rhyming words to cooking to digging in the sandpit without any concern as to which subject category these activities would fall into.

I’ve seen lots of social media posts recently, by Early Years educators, combining ‘STEM’ activities (Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths) with Arts and Literature. This is especially interesting to those of us who feel that our own interests (as well as those of our toddlers) span different subject categories. One of the ways I’ve been trying to follow my toddler’s fluid approach to learning is by using books to explore all sorts of different subjects.

One Gorilla, by Anthony Browne, is one of our favourites on numbers and counting:

1 gorilla

Storytelling can also be a great starting place for exploring mathematical concepts. We’ve used Goldilocks and the Three Bears in the past to look at relative size and measuring:

Who has the biggest bowl? Whose is the smallest?

Barefoot Books is a fantastic company which produces beautiful, intelligent, diverse books. We have been given several of their books as gifts, and have used the free resources on their website heavily over the past few years! The Shape Song is my personal favourite, containing the lyrics:

“Is it work? Is it play? Is it music? Is it art?”

Little is teaching me that learning is all these things combined, and more. I think toddlers understand this far better than we adults do. I’ll try to remember that the next time he wants to paint a triangle poem, cut out a medium-sized rainbow rectangle or feed a song to a blue horse.

Because if you can’t do these things when you are a toddler, when can you?

Stories for maths