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BLOG: How music supports the foundations for maths in early years

Within the Department for Education (DfE) changes to the EYFS for September 2021 there is a new ELG entitled Numerical Patterns. This reflects their research findings that a child’s understanding of numerical patterns at age 5 is the strongest predictor of future maths ability.

Music is built on numerical patterns and sequences. Here at Boogie Mites we have always understood the importance of regular music making in laying strong foundations for maths, particularly strengthening recognition of patterns:

  • Music is built from recurring mathematical patterns and sequences such as beat, tempo and rhythm. Children can develop mathematical thinking as they notice and respond to this.
  • A sense of pattern supports children’s learning, enabling them to make links and notice connections between events and ideas, promoting thought and the capacity to learn.
  • If, as mathematicians suggest, maths is the science of pattern, it is clear that music and dance are the art of pattern.
  • Early exploration of movement and sound, combined with the brain’s drive for pattern, lead to recognition of regularities that can be identified. These regularities, such as, ordering, classifying, sequencing and predicting supports foundations for maths.

Once we are aware of the relevance of music and movement practice for developing a strong foundation for maths, we can encourage engagement with listening to and dancing to music, as well as initiating sequencing of actions, counting whilst keeping the beat and repetition of sequences.

Practical music and maths activities for you to try

  1. Developing sequencing skills and keeping the beat: introducing music with a steady beat, and incorporating, for example, two claps, two knee taps, two stamps and two clicks.

This activity involves body percussion and teaches children to keep the beat, in turn, developing their sequencing skills.

At first say the words that represent the action e.g. clap, clap, tap, tap, stamp, stamp, click, click. After this try counting while doing this sequence of actions. Then try singing a nursery rhyme while doing this sequence of actions. Next time, change the sequence of actions and practise with the same progression and a different rhyme.

  1. Developing positional language and pitch awareness: try the High, Low, Middle activity to develop visual concepts and positional language.

Stand on your toes and stretch up high and sing “high” with a high-pitched voice, then bend down and touch the floor and sing “low” with a low voice, then stand normally with hands at hip height and sing “middle” with pitch in between the high and low notes.

Try singing to the tune of Hot Cross Buns, making sure you match your pitch and actions to the words you’re singing:

High, low, middle,

High, low, middle,

Stretch up high,

And bend down low,

High, low, middle.

Make maths fun

We have written a new maths song to make numbers fun and exciting for early years children and to promote our maths programme. Our maths programme develops children’s maths from age 2, supporting the foundations ready for learning number bonds to ten and other maths learning goals in Year R.

At Boogie Mites, we want to challenge the stigma that maths is ‘too difficult’ at an early stage, so that we don’t hear ‘maths isn’t for me’ and ‘I can’t do maths’ later on in life. We want to make maths fun through music in early years.

You can download our new song, Hey, Hey, Say It Again, which supports number bonds to 10 and is suitable for 4- to 5-year-olds.

Our practitioner programmes

Childminders are eligible for a 50% discount on Boogie Mites practitioner programmes. Email admin@boogiemites.co.uk to request your discount code.

Our maths programme has been reviewed and recommended by The National Numeracy parental engagement pedagogical team:

"I have spent a lovely few hours listening to the songs and following the activities in my head. It is a super resource and you have incorporated excellent direct links to the EY Maths standards for mathematics. The activities contribute to developing number sense and pattern early and this is so important! I have no hesitation in recommending this for inclusion on National Numeracy’s Family Maths Toolkit." - Sue Skyrme, National Numeracy

For enquiries, contact Sue Newman, Boogie Mites director: sue@boogiemites.co.uk or call her on 023 92 817274

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