Mathematics Birth to Eight Years


Oliver Thiel, Queen Maud University College, Norway
Maulfry Worthington, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands


The EECERA SIG Mathematics provides an academic and rigorous forum to develop and disseminate high quality research on early childhood mathematics education. It has organised stimulating and relevant symposia and other presentations at recent EECERA conferences. Some collaborative research, publication and evaluation have arisen as a result of people engaging with others at SIG meetings and during presentations. There is great potential for future collaborations, perhaps through joint publication in books and papers. The SIG Mathematics is a friendly group looking to expand in order to continue learning about early childhood mathematics education. Please join us.


The EECERA SIG Mathematics aims to coordinate and disseminate international research on the discourse in the emerging early childhood mathematics education field. It creates a space for shared thinking and for creating synergies between participants from a wide range of professional and scientific contexts to encourage a clearer articulation and understanding of early childhood pedagogy, policy and practice in relation to mathematics.


Click here to view the 2021-22 report (pdf)

Click here to view the 2020-21 report (pdf)
Click here to view the 2019-20 report (pdf)
Click here to view the 2018-19 report (pdf)
Click here to view the 2017-18 report (pdf)
Click here to view the 2016-17 report (pdf)
Click here to view the 2014-15 report (pdf)

News & Events

Call for papers 

The call for papers for the upcoming EECERA conference 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, is now open.

If you plan to present a paper about mathematics in early childhood, please, contact me before submitting the abstract. I want to collect the presentations in self-organised symposia (organised by the SIG). That will increase the paper’s visibility in the programme.

SIG Meeting

The last SIG meeting was on Tuesday, 23 August 2022.

At the SIG meeting we agreed to start working on a new book project.

The next SIG meeting will be in 2023 at the Annual EECERA Conference in Lisbon.

New book in the EECERA Praxis series

Since 2019, the SIG worked on a joint research. The results were published in a book project for the EECERA book series ‘Towards an Ethical Praxis in Early Childhood’ in 2021: Thiel, O., Severina, E. & Perry, B. (Eds.). Mathematics in early childhood: Research, reflexive practice and innovative pedagogy. London: Routledge.

This year, the SIG started a new book project about play. The book shall be published in the EECERA Praxis Series. The series focuses on knowledge and reflection, which has relevance and topicality for those at the front line of decision-making and professional practice. It should be helpful for early childhood practitioners, stakeholders, teacher educators, and researchers. The aim is to write a book showing practitioners that mathematics emerges in children’s play and can be done everywhere and at any time – not only with teacher-led activities on Friday between 2 and 3 o’clock.

The proposed structure of the book: It starts with a general introduction to play in early childhood mathematics education. The following chapters contain different perspectives on play and focus on various mathematical content areas. Each chapter should be written in cooperation by at least two authors with varying backgrounds from separate countries. The aim is to present the diverse understandings of play and the various ways mathematics emerges in children’s play. The last chapter summarises and analyses the different contributions in the book, searching for patterns that emerge.

Possible perspectives can be;

•             How to enrich mathematics in play without destroying the play

•             Key issues that teachers/educators have to understand

•             Different policies and organizational structures in various countries

•             Various approaches for distinct age groups

•             Exemplifying what mathematics can be in different situations

Oliver Thiel, Maulfry Worthington, Elizabeth Carruthers, and Chrystalla Papademetri will be editors. Winfried Roelofs would like to be a reviewer. The editors received twenty expressions of interest.

PED talks

At the 29th EECERA Annual Conference in Thessaloniki, Kelly Johnston had a PED Talk (Pedagogical TED Talk) about mathematics in the lives of infants and toddlers. You can watch it on YouTube.

At the 28th EECERA Annual Conference in Budapest, Oliver Thiel had a PED Talk (Pedagogical TED Talk) about early childhood mathematics. You can watch it on YouTube. Full text of the talk is available on ResearchGate.

If you are interested, please, contact Oliver Thiel.

Activities & Publications


SIG members organised two self-organised symposia and participated in two individual paper symposia for the EECERA conference in Glasgow.

  1. SYMPOSIUM A17: Playful learning of powerful mathematical knowledge in early childhood
    Chair:        Oliver Thiel
    1. Catherine Gripton
      Developing mathematical patterning in ECE classrooms: participatory research with teachers of 3-5 year olds
    1. Judith Fabrega, Mequè Edo, and Alba Torregrossa
      Supporting early mathematics through play: Number Decomposition
    1. Anne Nakken, Oliver Thiel
      Child led animation video production to enrich mathematical thinking
  2. SYMPOSIUM B8: Mathematics and Play in Early Childhood: Children, Teachers and Families
    Chair:        Bob Perry
    1. Bob Perry
      Let’s Count: Revision and Redevelopment
    1. Elizabeth Carruthers
      Early Years Teachers Perspectives on their Pedagogies of Play and Mathematics
    1. Maulfry Worthington
      Play, agency and young children’s mathematics
  3. SYMPOSIUM D2: Digital technologies and mathematical learning
    Chair:        Andreas Ebbelind
    1. Andreas Ebbelind, Hanna Palmér, Marina Wernholm, Emelie Patron, Kristina Danielsson
      Six-year-olds create digital animations to reinforce mathematical problem solving
    1. Liliana Silva and Andrea Maffia
      Validation of a tool to assess mathematical skills with board games in early years
  4. SYMPOSIUM E23: Sorting maths in ECEC
    Chair:        Chrystalla Papademetri
    1. Chrystalla Papademetri
      A Pedagogy of willingness to uncertainty, triggering the unexpected: Stories of children playfully doing mathematics!
    1. Lisa Kristina Lunde, Hjørdis H. K. Bakke, Christine Seehuus, Anne Nakken
      Sorting and re-sorting
    1. Lynn O’Dwyer
      Exploring Early Years Mathematics Teaching and Learning in the context of an Irish Preschool Classroom


  • At EECERA Online Festival 2021, we had one self-organised symposium and members of the SIG had talks in other symposia.
  1. Symposium SET 2: Making maths count
    • Presenter 1: Maria Figueiredo
      “It’s a thing for measuring things”: children’s talking and playing with measurement tools in early childhood education
    • Presenters 2: Bob Perry and Sue Dockett
      Educators and Community Facilitating Mathematics Learning: Let’s Count
  2. Symposium SET 4: Children’s mathematizing in spontaneous play
    • Presenter 1: Maulfry Worthington
      A natural history of mathematical signs: Democracy, freedom and the emergent learner
    • Presenter 2: Elizabeth Carruthers
      Where is the Mathematics of Children? Teachers’ Observations and reflections on children’s mathematics in imaginary play episodes.
    • Presenter 3: Annerieke Boland
      Counting on spontaneous play.


We published the book
Thiel, O., Severina, E. & Perry, B. (Eds.). Mathematics in early childhood: Research, reflexive practice and innovative pedagogy. London: Routledge.


  • We organised three self-organised symposia and had a PED Talk at the EECERA conference in Thessaloniki in 2019:
  1. Symposium A10: Mathematics in early childhood: Reflexive praxsis leading to innovative pedagogy
    Chair: Camilla Normann Justnes 
      • Presenter 1: Oliver Thiel
        Reflexive praxis leading to innovative early childhood mathematics
      • Presenter 2: Bob Perry and Oliver Thiel
        Harry’s Line Work
      • Presenter 3: Maria Figueiredo
        The power of play: Cowboys, measuring tapes and the construction of meanings by children
  2. Symposium B11: Pedagogical understandings that promote children’s own mathematics
    Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Elizabeth Carruthers
        Moving from an adult orientated perspective to a child-centred model of early mathematics pedagogy
      • Presenter 2: Maulfry Worthington
        The cultural transmission of mathematical signs: Child’s play
      • Presenter 3: Silje Christiansen
        Multilingual children’s participation in mathematical activities
  3. Symposium E19: The importance of language and values in young children’s mathematical learning
    Chair: Kelly Johnston 
      • Presenter 1: Kelly Johnston
        More than ‘more’: Mathematical language in snack-time conversations with toddlers
      • Presenter 2: Camilla Normann Justnes
        How Norwegian preschool teachers make sense of talk moves: A case study
      • Presenter 3: Dorota Lembrér
        Mathematics at home: Parents’ views on children’s mathematics learning and development
  4. PED Talk: Starting at the beginning: Mathematics in the lives of infants and toddlers
    Presenter: Kelly Johnston


  1. Symposium: Mathematics Birth to Eight Years SIG Symposium
    Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Doris Drexl
        Teaching ECEC students to support children in learning mathematics
      • Presenter 2: Elin Kirsti Lie Reikerås
        Gender differences in mathematics in toddler and preschool age
      • Presenter 3: Bob Perry and Sue Dockett
        Noticing preschool children’s engagement with powerful mathematical ideas
  2. PED Talk: Let’s play mathematics!
    Presenter: Oliver Thiel


    • We organised four self-organised Symposia for the EECERA conference in Bologna in 2017:
    1. Title: Mathematics education in early childhood
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Sue Dockett and Bob Perry
        The place of proximal processes in young children’s mathematical learning
      • Presenter 2: Maulfry Worthington
        Mathematisation and agency in early childhood
      • Presenter 3: Maria Figueiredo
        Arithmetical operations in early childhood education: its kid’s play
    1. Title: Mathematics in transition to school
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Camilla Norman Justnes
        Continuity in mathematics in the transition from kindergarten to school in Norway
      • Presenter 2: Wendy Goff
        Adult relationships that support the mathematical learning of children making the transition to school
      • Presenter 3: Oliver Thiel
        Early childhood teacher students’ mathematics anxiety
    1. Title: Early childhood teachers’ thoughts about mathematics
      Chair: Chrystalla Papademetri 
      • Presenter 1: Elizabeth Dunphy
        Factors influencing preservice teachers’ choices of picture book for mathematics learning in early childhood
      • Presenter 2: Pamela Moffett
        ECEC teachers’ views on abstract representation in mathematics
      • Presenter 3: Elizabeth Carruthers
        Really Listening to Children’s Voices in Mathematics – Levels of Teacher Understanding and the Pedagogical Implications
    2. Title: The Big Idea Approach
      Chair: Chrystalla Papademetri 
      • Presenter 1: Marianna Efstathiadou
        Be a skilled observer and a reflective thinker: Helping prospective early childhood teachers to plan their mathematical activities through analysing children’s play
      • Presenter 2: Andrea Eliadou
        Teaching Mathematical Concepts VS “Triggering”, as opportunity to learning and teaching, through the “Big Idea approach”: Attempt at designing mathematical activities with young learners
      • Presenter 3: Chrystalla Papademetri
        Stories of young children ‘cycling around’ mathematical ideas against the fragmentation of knowledge


    • We organised two self-organised Symposia for the EECERA conference in Dublin 2016:
    1. Title: We Talk about Mathematics in Early Childhood
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Sue Dockett
        Young children noticing their own mathematics in play
      • Presenter 2: Pamela Moffett
        Promoting early number talk – Evaluating the impact on professional practice
    2. Title: Innovative Approaches in Early Childhood Mathematics
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Liz Dunphy
        Picture-books as pedagogical tools for supporting mathematics learning in early childhood
      • Presenter 2: Oliver Thiel
        Young children explore a mathematics room
      • Presenter 3: Marianna Efstathiadou, Andrea Eliadou and Chrystalla Papademetri
        Supporting early childhood teachers to redefine learning through creative learning and play concerning mathematics


    • We organised two self-organised Symposia for the EECERA conference in Barcelona 2015:
    1. Title: Early Childhood Mathematics
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Kerstin Bäckman
        Play and Everyday Mathematics in Preschool
      • Presenter 2: Bob Perry
        Preschool educators working with parents to help children notice their mathematics
      • Presenter 3: Oliver Thiel
        Early childhood teacher students’ beliefs about mathematics
    2. Title: Mathematizing in early childhood
      Chair: Oliver Thiel 
      • Presenter 1: Liz Dunphy
        Mathematical Thinking Processes: Supporting Children’s Engagement at the Transition to School
      • Presenter 2: Gabriella Gejard
        Children’s and teachers’ interaction in mathematical activities in a Swedish preschool
      • Presenter 3: Oliver Thiel
        A room for mathematics in early childhood


  • SIG meeting at EECERA conference in Crete 2014;
  • collated a list of contact addresses to enable participants to pursue points of discussion raised at that meeting;
  • started a Google-drive, Facebook-group, and LinkedIn-group to exchange information and documents;

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