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Early Years Forum


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Using stories to inspire mathematical learning in the Early Years

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louise_burnett 01 July 2011 10:52
Posts259
Joined12/07/06
Have you read about the project undertaken by four schools in Lancashire, exploring the use of stories to develop mathematical understanding?  Their report gives a full account of how they developed meaningful resources in school and suported each other in embedding the new approach with all staff. 

The reported benefits have been immense; with improved motivation and enthusiasm for pupils, as well as increased confidence of staff in planning activities and in making observational assessments.  Pupils are engaged in more using & applying activities  - and so are the parents!

A 'Mathematical Stories' booklist was included in Issue 3 of the Primary magazine and might provide a good starting point for you to try this idea in your own school.

Let us know what you've tried already...
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Barbara.Schindelhauer 09 October 2011 07:29
Posts10
Joined26/09/11
Louise, stories are wonderful for children and no wonder the project went that well!  

In Germany there was a research project that also used stories.  The stories were supplemented by related music, active games and other activities in the daily play.  The core idea was that children travel to an imaginative place land called 'Numberland' were the numbers 1 to 10 live and were the children have lots of things to do and explore by play, thus actually experiencing the basic numbers and shapes with their hands.  

Objective of the project was to find out whether applying findings of brain research and developmental psychology to early math would have significant effects on mathematical understanding and language skills.  The research study was funded by the Land of Baden-Württemberg and the Robert Bosch Foundation and carried out by a pedagogue and a school psychologist between 2002 and 2004.

The results were striking:  The children absolutely enjoyed the imaginative approach and within only ten weeks, the children aged 3 to under 6 years acquired the mathematical understanding (and language skills) they normally would have achieved only within one year.  The teachers were highly motivated and detected many ways of how to creatively fill the open frame.  A second study between 2005 and 2009 confirmed the findings.  Today, the concept is widely applied.

Let me know if you would like to know more.
Kind regards from the Black Forest
Barbara





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petegriffin 09 October 2011 08:29
Assistant Director (Secondary)
Posts1917
Joined29/06/06
There is a lovely example of a teacher using a story to motivate her early years group into exploring the idea of same and different, sorting and classifying here in the "Teachers Talking Theory in Action" micro-site.
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louise_burnett 18 October 2011 19:52
Posts259
Joined12/07/06
Hi Barbara,

Many thanks for your input here, I'm intrigued!  I would certainly like to know more.  I am the editor of the online NCETM Early Years magazine, and I think this would make a great feature in a forthcoming issue. Would it be possible for you to contact me at weezey75@hotmail.com, or perhaps provide an email at which I can get in touch with you. 

Many, many thanks,

Louise
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Barbara.Schindelhauer 19 October 2011 07:46
Posts10
Joined26/09/11
Hi Louise,

Thank you for your interest and for even considering to feature it.  I'm more than happy to share information about 'Numberland' and will contact you under the email address you gave me.

Kind regards
Barbara



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ChrisEllis 19 October 2011 09:45
Posts9
Joined21/04/09
I'm very excited by the growing interest in stories and narrative within early maths education. It is undoubtedly a very powerful way of motivating and engaging children.  I very much look forward to hearing more. 
All the best
Chris
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cherri 19 October 2011 09:57
Posts342
Joined05/04/07

I look forward to hearing more too, as this is a real area of interest of mine.

I am impressed by the Numberland materials. Are they available in the UK, do you know?

Cherri

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Barbara.Schindelhauer 22 October 2011 20:32
Posts10
Joined26/09/11
Cherri, thank you for your compliment on the Numberland materials.  As you probably noticed, there are many ways to realise the idea (bought or self-constructed), as long as the underlying principles are met.

So far, a first translation of the German book is available, reporting on the study and the theoretical background, but focusing on the options of realising 'Numberland'. It also includes tales for each number and songs. If you would like to learn more, contact me under info@numberland.net

Other materials such as houses, puppets etc. are offered by a German company.  To my knowledge, there are no retailers in the UK so far but I could imagine that it should be possible to buy directly from that company.

Barbara
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ChrisEllis 13 December 2011 11:08
Posts9
Joined21/04/09
I think Numberland is very interesting, and I'm particularly struck by how it helps the children to have meaningful conversations about mathematical decision that matter to them - the horse with 4 legs and  tail being a very good example. There has been a long tradition of creating such imaginary worlds on UK television, with programmes like Numbertime, the Number Crew and the Numberjacks, all of which use story to engage the child's imagination heart and mind in the same way that Numberland is clearly doing very successfully.

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Barbara.Schindelhauer 15 December 2011 13:49
Posts10
Joined26/09/11
Using an imaginary world has rightfully been a powerful tool for a long time and there are many excellent projects.

As for "Let's visit Numberland", it seems to be the tangible aspect that adds the special value: That children can TOUCH and DO things they like and that everything is in an attractive context, showing clearly the logical coherences.

Teachers tell us they particularly like that they can combine math and language training (mother tongue, second language, foreign language).

I am very excited to learn what professionals in the UK think about our concept and whether/how it could be of value for your educational system.

If you would like to learn more about the research study, let me know at barbara@numberland.net or visit our website.

Barbara 

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