Practical Maths

Here are a range of practical maths tasks and activities which can be easily created and adapted at home to suit the needs and abilities of all children.  Changing the numbers or adding an element of challenge can extend children’s knowledge and thinking.  Work together at home to prepare the things you need and then enjoy the maths.



  • Collect some sticks from outside. Can you put them in order from the shortest to the longest? Can you find something longer than the longest stick?  Can you find something shorter than the shortest stick?  
  • Find 6 of your favourite toy figures, e.g. a plastic doll, a superhero, a bear, a toy dog, a dinosaur and plastic troll, trying to make sure they are all different sizes.  Stand them up and put them in order from the shortest to the tallest.  Is the biggest one in the line-up the biggest toy you own? How big is the biggest toy you own?  What could you use to measure it?
  • Use building bricks to measure some of your toys. How many bricks high are they? Can you make a tower of 10 bricks? How tall can you make a tower before it falls over? Count each brick as you add it on. 
  • Weighing and measuring: Grab the scales and/or tape measure and find different things from around the house to weigh and/or measure. Perhaps have a go at putting them in order using your estimating skills first.
  • Measure how tall the people in your house are and compare their heights.  Challenge yourself to create a bar graph to represent this.
  • Measure how many star jumps/lengths of the garden/times up and down the stairs you can do in 1 minute. Repeat the activity every day during the week and then measure again at the end of the week.  Can you improve your score?
  • Make or bake something at home. Weigh out the ingredients carefully reading the scales. Use fractions to divide your bakes in to halves and quarters.
  • Talk about the daily routine. Point out days on the calendar and times on the clock and use language such as today, tomorrow, yesterday, this morning, now, next, after that and so on. Refer to the days of the week and the idea of weekdays and weekends.
  • Talk about what time events will take place, talking about time in 12-hour and 24-hour digital language. Ask the children to tell the time at various points in the day or give them a time and ask them to let you know when the clock says that time. Start with o’clock and half past, moving on to quarter to and quarter past.
  • Choose some household objects or toys and make a shop.  Add prices and invite a customer (or a cuddly toy) to buy items. How much will they spend?  Which coins can they use to pay?  How much change will they receive? 
  • Make your own measuring bottle/jug out of an old bottle. Use it to compare capacity of things in the house.
  • Provide lots of different containers in the sandpit, water tray or bathtub. Talk about concepts such as heavy, light, full and empty.  Look at how much a container will hold, and see if it still holds that amount if you pour it out and then in again. See if you can find two different shaped containers that hold the same amount.
  • Raid the cupboards for different food items.  Read the labels to identify how many grams/ ml are inside.  Organise the items in increasing order of mass or capacity.
  • Collect objects from around the house, investigate the correct shape names for the objects you have found.  Can you sort them into two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes?
  • How many shapes can you draw that have an area of 20 square centimetres?
  • How many different shapes can you draw with a perimeter of 12 centimetres?
  • On a digital clock, there are certain times when the numbers are in consecutive order, in counting order, either forwards or backwards e.g. 1:23 or 5:43.  How many times during a day does this happen?
  • On a 24-hour digital clock, over 24 hours, how many times does the number 4 appear?  Does the number 4 appear more or less on a 12-hour digital clock or a 24-hour digital clock?
  • Using only 3 objects each time, try to get as close to 2kg as possible. Explain why you chose those objects. Work out how much more or how much less is needed to make it 2kg.
  • The answer is 475 metres.  What could the question be?