maths blog
butterbeans coloured on one side

Subitising - an important skill


PLAY ANY DICE GAME using home-made jumping beans, and really increase the opportunity for mathematical learning.


Make a set by colouring one side of some dried beans with sticky dots, acrylic paint or nail varnish.Watch the video for more details.


Play a favourite board game: Take turns to throw ten beans and score the number of beans which land coloured side up.


Pass it on – For scores of one, two or three, name the score out loud. As your child becomes more confident do the same for a score of four and five. This is called 'subitising' – instantly recognising the number of objects in a small group without counting. Recent research suggests that an ability to subitise is more important to mathematical development than it would seem.


For a larger score move the coloured beans into a pattern to help recognise the number Ask for example “Do you think you will score ten?”.


Your child's understanding of number and chance will be taken to another level if you play a game allowing each player to choose how many beans they throw on their turn. Try asking for example “Why have you chosen to throw... eight beans?”

Please let me know if you have a topic idea for my maths blog.
duck with reflection showing symmetry

Maths is all around us


One of the most powerful ways to change attitudes to maths is to be mindful of the maths all around us. In our very busy world the lens of a camera can focus our thoughts. Looking together at a photo is a great way to get talking.

Take a walk and look out for the beautiful mathematical patterns of nature. Please share your favourite photos to add to the Real Maths Photos collection.

playing cards, dice, counters

Games - a great way to learn Maths


I'm on a mission to help families have fun learning maths. So... I'm starting with science! With modern imaging we can see our amazing brains learning - forming new connections. Research shows that when we are anxious, those new connections don't happen, but when we are anticipating a chance event, connections happen really easily. Having fun playing a game together, where there is an element of chance is (scientifically) a brilliant way to help learning and especially good if family members have anxiety about maths.

Playing games with your child has lots of other benefits too. Playing together encourages close interaction and cooperation. Handling dice and counters will help a child discover and feel numbers. A child is more likely to continue to try to work out an answer if a difficult problem is part of a game. Developing this perseverance supports maths learning to the very highest level.


I can't think of a game that doesn't have an element of maths – let me know if you can – but it is also possible to find or invent a game to practise any maths skill. Whether you want to help your child practise addition, times tables or algebra a favourite game can be adapted. Contact me and I will find a game to match your child's needs. Let me know which games you have enjoyed.