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Research School Network: Mathematical Routines in Year One

Mathematical Routines in Year One

by Research Schools Network
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The Education Endowment Foundation’s recent guidance report on mathematics teaching in the early years and key stage 1 recommends that teachers integrate mathematics throughout the day (Recommendation 2), including through the use of routines. Clare Christie, Lead Practitioner at Ashley Down Schools Federation, reflects on some of the ways her school has worked to integrate mathematics into daily routines in Reception and Year 1.

Over the last few years our Reception team have worked hard on developing our maths provision. This has included work on developing mathematical routines through the day. At the start of this academic year we worked as a Reception/​Year 1 team to develop our use of mathematical routines in Year 1. Our objectives were to provide a smooth transition from Reception, address Y1 maths objectives in mathematical moments’ in the day, and to free up maths lessons for measures, shape, spatial reasoning and patterns, as well as fluency in calculation within ten.

We started with two inputs – the list of daily mathematical routines used in Reception and our Year 1 maths curriculum. We highlighted the programme of study objectives which we suspected were best taught through daily routines and mapped Reception routines against these. We then took each routine and discussed how it needed adapting to make sure that it was teaching what children need to know and be able to do by the end of Year 1.

School routines: Recommendation 2 from the EEF’s new Improving Maths in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 maths guidance report supports the use of mathematical concepts in daily routines: Dedicate time for children to learn mathematics and integrate mathematics throughout the day’. Here are some of the ways we have been able to implement this recommendation in our school.

School day count

The daily count was planned to support place value, but it provides other mathematical opportunities too.

Maths Routines 1
Maths Routines 2

The children add a straw to the chart each school day of the year, bundling up 10 ones to make 1 ten as they go (here there are 7 bundles of 10 straws and 3 additional ones). The child adding the straw also writes up the day number; here you can see Jiah has written 73 correctly alongside the child’s numeral.

The children enjoy working out how many more days until the next bundle of 10 can be made, providing daily reinforcement of number bonds to 10. Some children have also wanted to work out how many more days until 100. The 100 square with crossings out has been a great tool for supporting this. On day 73 they can see that there are two more full rows of 10 days, plus 7 more, making 27 more days until 100 day.

After 100 days of the school year we have a 100-day celebration, with 100’ themed teaching for the day and the children bring in 100 of something. Each gives opportunity to discuss the hundredness’.

Tooth loss chart

In Reception, the children do a daily chart of lunch choices as part of mealtime maths, which provides another opportunity for daily counting. We wanted to continue using a chart in Y1, but adapt this to find a chart with smaller numbers in each category which the children could start to calculate with.

Maths Routines 3

We decided on a tooth loss’ chart. As losing a tooth is a big deal in Y1 we thought children would engage with this context and enjoy discussing how the chart developed through the year; it also provided an opportunity to learn months of the year. We thought carefully about how to mark the scale on the chart to get full mathematical potential out of the routine.

Because the blocks of paper the children put on when they lose a tooth end up looking more like a bar chart than a pictogram, it has also encouraged the children to use the scale to find the total for each month rather than counting. 

For example, we can work out there are 8 teeth lost in October by counting on 3 more from 5, or by subitising the extra 3 and adding this to 5, or by seeing it is 2 less than 10. There are lots of opportunities for comparing the number of teeth lost in different months and using the language more than’ and fewer than’. The tooth chart has also provided opportunities for sum (addition) and difference (subtraction) discussions and the class are now starting to calculate with the numbers on the chart.

Paying for fruit with pre money tokens

One of the really successful routines in Reception is fair exchange, where each child pays’ for their fruit with pre-money tokens – see In Reception, we start with 1 dot counters, before introducing 2 and 5 dot counters. By changing the pre-money tokens available, and price of fruit, we can increase the challenge of the routine as the children’s fair exchange ability grows.

Maths Routines 4
Reception child paying '5' for fruit

In Year 1, the routine was proving difficult to manage with only one adult in the classroom and every child paying, so we have recently discussed how to adapt it to Year 1 staffing ratios. Now we are going to have two children a day paying on behalf of the class using bigger counters on a magnetic board and explaining their fair exchange to the rest of the class. We are also adapting the routine so that it makes up our main multiplicative provision in Year 1, by choosing just one types of token (out of 2 dot, 5 dot and 10 dot tokens) to pay a multiple of that number. Although we choose to not explicitly teach multiplication and division, or show the children written equations with the division symbol in Year 1, the children will in fact have had daily exposure to multiplication and division before starting Year 2. As recommended in the EEF guidance report, we seize chances to reinforce mathematical vocabulary’.

Shifting routines and developing maths provision

Teaching colleagues at Brunel Field have been hugely positive, and a little surprised, regarding just how much of the number curriculum in Year 1 can be taught in mathematical moments’ in the school day. 

They have said that they could do these kind of things – practising counting to 100, practising number bonds – as starters in the daily maths lesson, but this way a lot more of the children are engaged as they really care about the contexts, and the familiarity and repetition gives every child the confidence to engage with them. They have also noted how the routines can be adapted, and the mathematics within them extended, as the children’s mathematical knowledge grows.

At Brunel Field Primary School we have seized upon every opportunity to teach mathematics through the school day, ensuring a rich curriculum so that every pupil is confident with mathematics.

With thanks to Year 1 teachers Emma Robinson and Jiah Wells, and the Reception team of Lou Brewer, Michelle Manson, Aggie Bennett and Caroline Forster

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