Playful Numeracy – hands on math | Exploring Reggio

Racheous Lovable Learning - Playful Numeracy | Exploring ReggioReggio math explorations are always so inspiring. As someone who has never been mathematically minded, I love the idea of exploring numeracy and measurement on a more visual scale.

Creativity becomes more visible when adults try to be more attentive to the cognitive processes of children than to the results they achieve in various fields of doing and understanding. -Loris Malaguzzi

Numeracy for young children is about order, patterns, comparisons, and measurement. I love that quote from Malaguzzi because it’s so true – the results are secondary in the learning process for young children. It’s a bit like the ‘process rather than product’ sentiment shared by many educators and art.

playful numeracy reggio mathsLearning abstract mathematical concepts starts with play. When given the opportunity, materials and freedom, kids spend their days involving maths.

Did my sister get more crackers than me? How do these puzzle pieces fit together? How deep can I dig? Why won’t this fit? How many of these are in here? How much further can I kick this ball?

math manipulatives open-endedLoose parts lend themselves perfectly to Reggio-inspired math play. Processes like counting, comparing, sorting and estimating help children learn about the world around them. These open-ended materials really help children to make math tangible and less abstract as they learn the complex concepts.

You don’t need a lot of fancy materials. For example, I put a simple set of kitchen scales in the block area and it sparked some open-ended hands on learning about weight.

Cameron is really interested in measurement (of weight, volume, length) at the moment. At almost four, he still isn’t yet at the stage of understanding units of measurement. However, he loves to explore ‘what is heavy’ and making things ‘fuller’, and using a tape measure to see how long something is.

reggio weighingCameron can read most single digits and has learnt a lot about quantifying through Montessori materials.You can support your child’s growing mathematical mind and thirst for order by providing the opportunity, freedom and materials to sort, problem solve, estimate, subtract, collate, measure, compare, count, match, sequence, add, collect, create patterns and shapes.

Racheous | How to support your child's mathematical mind | Exploring ReggioJoin us in a fortnight for another Exploring Reggio post, and don’t forget to check out all the other great activities from our co-hosts:

Exploring Teen Numbers with Learn with Play at Home links
Math Investigation Area with The Imagination Tree

Exploring Reggio SeriesIf you missed our previous Exploring Reggio posts you can catch up on them in our Expressive Painting post.

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  1. I’ve loving this series – and learning so much! I didn’t know much about the Reggio theory of education, but apparently I’m a supporter! I love how you describe how play helps them with math: “How do these puzzle pieces fit together? How deep can I dig? Why won’t this fit? How many of these are in here? How much further can I kick this ball?” Can’t wait to read more of this series!

    • Thank you Kimberly. I thought you might be with your love of Reggio. There are some lovely similarities between Reggio and Montessori aren’t there? Thanks for commenting :)

  2. Fabulous post, Rachel. I am envious of a lot of your materials. I’d love a set of those wooden numbers. Thanks for the reminder to get out out the scales and add that to their play!

    • Thank you Debs. Most of the manipulatives are either recycled or part of another material/activity (i.e. the little wooden number pieces are from Reverse Garbage for $1 which I wrote on with a marker, and the large numbers are out of a puzzle :))

  3. Weighing things is always a popular activity around here… I think it is a really visual way to see weight and measurement which is why it appeals. Making numbers tangible like that is so important! Loved all your ideas

    • Most of the resources are recycled or parts of other toys. If you have a particular one you’d like to know about, I’ll point you in the right direction :) Thanks for commenting Penny!

  4. I think that makes maths look a little bit like fun! I’ll have to try this with my kids before they go to school and discover the old school method of learning numbers (that is not quite so enjoyable haha – at least not in my memory)

  5. Fabulous math activities! I love how you use the materials already in your home. It’s always so daunting having to go out and buy a bunch of stuff – you know? This is very nice.

    Thank you so much for sharing this on the homeschoollinkup!