3 Free EYFS Maths Activities to Develop Number Sense

Generally speaking, children will learn how to recite numbers before they are able to count a group of objects. There are a number of skills that children need to refine in order to count objects accurately and to develop greater number sense. In this blog I will outline them and provide EYFS maths activities that will support in their development.

One to One Correspondence

At its simplest level, this means matching one object to another. Further development of this skill means matching one number to an object when counting. This allows children to count small numbers of objects, progressing to larger ones and objects placed in irregular arrangements.

EYFS maths activities such as the matching sheet illustrated below support children in making this connection. Click on the picture to get your free copy.

EYFS Maths Activities

Other EYFS maths activities which can be used to develop this skill include:

  1. Counting beads on an abacus
  2. Finger counting rhymes
  3. Matching plates to chairs at the table in the home corner, cups to plates etc.
  4. Parking cars in a parking space
  5. Putting play dough cakes in a cup cake case (Visit my play dough blog for a free recipe to make perfect play dough)
  6. Dot card activities

When children are more confident with the EYFS maths activities above, they will be more able to verbally match numbers to the objects that they count. Children can start by counting objects that they can physically touch and move, progressing to objects that can’t be moved. No longer will they say two number names for the same object nor will their finger move quicker than they are counting or vice versa.


Children recognise that the last word in the count is the total number of objects. Before they have mastered this skill, when they are asked how many there are after counting they will begin the count all over again as they don’t yet understand that the final number is the amount. Once they have understood this concept they will give the final number in the count as the answer to the question of how many there are. Lots of practise counting different objects will support children’s understanding of this.


This is the ability to instantly recognise the number of objects in a group by their pattern e.g. the number of spots on a die. This understanding broadens a child’s knowledge about a particular number. For example, they understand the fiveness of five, it is not just a number name. They will start to see it as four but with one more in the middle and so on.

Recognising these number patterns will also help with more complex counting skills such as counting on. Children may notice that there are 4 and start counting a group from that number rather than one. Dot card, five frame and ten frame activities which I will talk about in greater detail below will all support children in developing this important skill.

Dot card, Five Frame and Ten Frame EYFS Maths Activities

Free pack of dot cards, five frames and ten frames

Dot card, five frame and ten frame activities develop a number of important skills which include:

  • Conservation – The understanding that the quantity remains the same even if the objects are moved around in a different arrangement.
  • Compensation – The process of rounding up numbers to make a calculation easier, taking the number off once the calculation is complete. In order to do this children need to have a good understanding of the patterns of number and the way in which the number is made up.
  • Unitising – The process of using one thing to represent a number of things e.g. one counter might represent 5.
  • Counting on – The process of starting the count from a place other than 1. For example, on a dot card children may instantly recognise the pattern of 4 within a group of 7 and so are able to start counting the objects from 4.
  • Composition of Number – The way in which numbers are made up e.g. number bonds.
  • Decomposition of Number – Breaking a number into its separate parts, the parts that make up the whole.

For example, children will learn that this arrangement is 6 dots, 6 is more than 5, 6 can be split into different quantities like 2 and 4, it remains as 6 no matter how it is arranged and the name for a set of things is 6.

Once children understand that the arrangement doesn’t change the amount they are ready to use oral numbers. When the children have made a strong connection between oral numbers and their corresponding sets children are ready to be introduced to numerals. Get started with my free set of dot cards, five frames and ten frames to cut out and laminate.

EYFS Maths

Included in the pack are a set of numeral cards and ten frames with numerals and dot patterns on.

The pack can be used in conjunction with the free pack of Dot Card and Ten Frame Activities By Kara Kolson, Suzanne Mole, Manuel Silva in the Numeracy Project Winnipeg School Division 2005-2006. This pack has a fantastic range of dot card, five frame and ten frame activities which can be used to develop the range of skills listed above.

You may want to add some colour and fun to your maths table with my pack of animal five frames. There are even some vertical ones to encourage the children to see different patterns of number.

There are also a number of interactive games on the nctm.org website which allow children to interact with five frames and ten frames on the whiteboard, tablet or computer.

Look out for more EYFS maths activities on my blog or visit my teacherspayteachers store or my tes store.

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