How music supports the foundation for maths in early years

This month at Boogie Mites we are focusing on maths, particularly how music and maths support the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

Since reviewing the Department for Education changes to the EYFS for September 2021, we found it important to discuss the modifications to mathematics. The changes within the EYFS maths area of learning will see shape, space and measures removed as an Early Learning Goal (ELG). More focus will be placed on numbers and patterns within the Numerical Patterns ELG, as this is the strongest predictor for later maths outcomes.

This focus on patterns is a happy surprise for us 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. This enables 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, then music and dance are the art of pattern.
  • Early exploration of movement and sound, combined with the brain’s drive for pattern, leads to the recognition of regularities. These regularities, such as, ordering, classifying, sequencing and predicting supports a foundation for maths.

The link between music and maths

‘Doing mathematics is a bit like playing a musical instrument’, an article from the Guardian points out, ‘It requires practice…music is full of mathematics. Rhythm is about exploring the way different numbers interact.’

Music, in fact, is built from recurring mathematical patterns and sequences. Research has shown that participating in music activities boosts mathematical thinking and skills. In turn, creating a fun way to increase practitioner’s and children’s confidence in the subject.

The first step is to develop our own confidence to sing and dance alongside our children. The second is knowing how to find maths in music, valuing sound and movement patterns, and understanding their relevance to maths learning and development. Boogie Mites programmes are beginner friendly and easy to use so you don’t need to have a qualification in music, dance or maths to teach successfully!


Practical music and maths activities for you to try

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

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.

At Boogie Mites, we want to challenge the stigma that maths is ‘too difficult’ at an early stage. We want to make maths fun through music in early years.

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


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