Fruit Pastille Maths

Fruit Pastille Maths

Today’s blog will show you how to make maths easy by bribing your children with sweets. Just kidding! Although this activity does make maths more fun and children actually want to do these “games”.

A great maths activity for a rainy day is what has become known in my Nanny family house as “Fruit Pastille maths.” To make this healthier you can use fruit (although it could get a little messy and don’t forget to wash your hands)

I also like to use Skittles or Smarties as the numbers get a little higher then.

Sorting colours

There are many aspects to this activity and you can start with children as young as two. For the younger ones, just sorting them and naming the colours is a great start.


The next step is to count them. A target in the Early Years is to count to 5, 10 then 20. There are three ways to help your child to count. The first is to physically move them, the next is to put them in a line to make it easier and touch each sweet as you say the number name. These are examples of one-to-one correspondence.

Eventually, the child can count by sight.


It is good to start supporting your child to record their maths. I would encourage them to draw a dot in the colour of the sweet or fruit and you can scribe the number for them to copy.

Adding (plus)

The next activity is to start adding the colours together. To make it harder, add more than one colour together. I like to generate the sums to help the children memorise number bonds to 10 and 20. Eventually, using sums that go over the tens boundary such as 9+3 or 17+4.

Taking away (minus)

For taking away, (and this is the fun part) start with one less, let them eat one and count how many are left. For larger take away sums, encourage your child to move the sweets or fruit taken away to see what is left. Always put the biggest number first.

Times tables (multiplying)

Times table sums can also be generated using this “game.” Doubling is the times table to start with. Then counting in tens. Counting in 5s. (Eg let’s say there are 6 oranges. Orange times by itself, orange times by 10 etc.) I always remind them that when you times by 1, the number stays the same and when you times by 0, the answer is always 0.

Sharing (dividing)

My Nanny child’s favourite activity is “sharing” mainly because that’s when she gets to eat the treasures of her hard work. I select a colour and generate the sum. So an even number can be divided by her and her sister. Or 8 for example can be shared between her, her sister, her mum and myself, if I really feel like I need a couple of sweeties that day.

Dividing/sharing with Jelly Beans

To share, they can literally move the sweet or fruit to the circle with the name of who it is going to above it. Eventually, they can draw the dot and count until they get to the number, then count how many is in one circle to get the answer.

The next step will be sums with remainders!

And even change the language to one of your choice. We use Italian colours and numbers.

As the sums get easier, increase the size of the numbers.

There’s more to books than reading…

The books I recommend to support counting and adding for nursery and reception aged children are as follows:

Lift-the-flap First Sums by Felicity Brooks, illustrated by Mélisande Luthringer
First 100 numbers by ELC

Show me your pictures of fruit or sweet maths fun…

Published by moretobooks

Award- winning author of the book: “There’s more to books than reading- how to help your child bring stories to life” With a Masters in Education, I have taught as a School teacher across Northern England and have worked as a Nanny/Governess in London and across the world. I support parents and nannies to bring learning into the home in an exciting and purposeful way. Also a speaker at events such as NannyPalooza and the International Nanny Day 2017 and featured in the Nanny Magazine (USA) and Childcare Magazine (UK)

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