What you’ll find in this blog:
- Neuroscience evidence – the link between music and maths
- A review of the revised 2021 Maths Early Learning Goals
- Musical pattern games to play
- A free maths song to download
- Upcoming online training covering Boogie Mites Maths Programme
- National Numeracy Day – 19th May
This month at Boogie Mites we are focusing on music and maths. Did you know that regular involvement in singing, playing instruments and moving with music supports the development of strong foundations for maths? This has been proven by neuroscientists and recognised by many a mathematical genius.
“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting, without being aware that it is counting. Music is a hidden exercise in arithmetic.”
Leibniz, 18th Century Philosopher and discoverer of calculus.
Many studies have shown that neurons are fired in the brain when you listen to, or make music. These neurons create pathways that are the same as those used to complete complex spatial reasoning tasks. The more pathways that are created and are in use, the stronger the connections become. (Rauscher et al 1997, Gardiner 2000, Hetland 2000)
There is some indication from studies that the younger children are when they begin music training, the greater the gains will be. Rauscher et al 1993 worked with 3 year-olds to find that those taking regular music activities scored significantly better in spatial awareness tasks. Spatial reasoning is a broad array of intellectual processes that come into play when you manipulate visual images in your mind. Examples of activities that require strong spatial reasoning skills are playing chess, designing buildings, solving maths problems and playing music.
Reviewing the Department for Education (DfE) changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for September 2021, we find 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), instead, there is more focus on numbers and patterns within the Numerical Patterns ELG.
Children at the expected level of development will:
- Have a deep understanding of numbers to 10, including the composition of each number.
- Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5.
- Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts.
ELG: Numerical Patterns
Children at the expected level of development will:
- Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system.
- Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity.
- Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally.
Whilst we welcome a focus on numerical patterns, having always understood the importance of counting as we keep the beat, we are disappointed that recognition of patterns and sequences in shape, actions and movement is not also included. Recognition of all patterns, including those that are visualised during music and movement activities, not just vocalised number patterns, are an important foundation for mathematical thinking and should be valued.
- 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, 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.
We know that numeracy skills in the UK have become worse over recent years. Could this be due to our confidence in the field? Phrases like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t do maths’ can be overheard daily, but these can be damaging for a child’s first experiences. It is so important to make maths fun and not just about numbers in early years or we could turn children off maths for life.
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.’
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 the children.
The second step is knowing how to find maths in music, valuing sound and movement patterns as well as counting, and understanding their relevance to maths learning and development.
Practical music and maths activities for you to try
1 – Developing sequencing skills and keeping the beat:
Simply 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 whilst doing this sequence of actions.
Next time, change the sequence of actions and practise with the same progression and a different rhyme.
2 – Making number bonds to 10 fun:
We have written a new maths song to make number bonds to 10 fun and exciting for 4-5 year olds, and to promote our School Ready Maths Music programme which is suitable for 3-5 year olds.
You can download our new maths song Hey, Hey, Say It Again (Number Bonds To 10), to support your maths learning – it’s suitable for 4-5 year olds:
Our Maths Programme
Boogie Mites Maths programme develops children’s maths from the age of 3, supporting the foundations ready for learning number bonds to 10 in Year R. We understand that EYFS planning can be time-consuming, so we have created fun, engaging and brain-boosting music activities that meet the criteria for the EYFS. Our notes have been updated to link to the revised ELGs, but we still highlight additional important maths foundations that we are supporting, including patterns and sequences of shapes, movement and spatial awareness.
We are offering online training via zoom on 21st and 23rd June to cover the theory and an overview of the Boogie Mites Maths programme and resources, to get you started with the online training modules.
You can find out more and book online here:
‘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.
It is National Numeracy Day on 19th May 2021, so a perfect time to invest in a music resource to support maths development in early years.
Boogie Mites Maths Practitioner Programme for use in a setting.
It’s also a great time to encourage parents to join in with the music and maths fun at home.
Boogie Mites Maths Parent Programme for home use.
For enquiries, contact Sue Newman, Boogie Mites Director: email@example.com or call on 023 92 817274