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Early Years Magazine - Issue 7: Focus on

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 29 April 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 18 May 2010 by ncetm_administrator


Early Years Magazine - Issue 7snail and bug

Focus on...counting

snailHow Many Snails? a counting book
by Paul Giganti Jr
ISBN 0688136397

How Many Snails? is an exceptional counting book. It is different from other counting books in that it does not simply illustrate a specific number. Instead, it provides an interesting, simple scene and asks questions. The series of simple questions helps to highlight the differences between similar objects, encouraging the development of visual discrimination and observation as well as developing counting skills.

girl counting
Each double-page spread asks three different ‘How many?’ questions, refining the request as the questioning progresses. This helps the children to ‘partition and re-partition the collection of objects’ as described by Gelman and Gallistel’s ‘how-to-count’ principles.

Enjoy sharing the book and counting with the children. Try some of the following activities to link with the book. These could form part of a longer exploration of the creatures found in your outdoor area:

  • girl with magnifying glass looking at catepillarMake a simple outdoor scene on a large display board within easy reach of the children. Create snails, butterflies and other creatures to add to the scene. Make snails by coiling string onto paper liberally painted with glue. When dry, paint with no more than two colours.  Add the snails to the display and ask questions such as ‘How many green snails can you see?’ ‘How many blue and yellow snails can you see?’ and so on. Change the creatures in the scene daily and ask a range of questions.
  • Roll plasticine or clay into long sausage shapes and then coil them to make snails. Make the snails in a range of colours, or paint them. Display on a table top with foliage and rocks. Ask questions about the location of particular snails as well as ‘How many?’ questions.
  • Set up a counting table with bowls of items to be counted and empty bowls to count into. Craft shops often sell small items such as ladybirds, butterflies and bees that can be used as fun counting items.
  • Paint large and small spirals on a large sheet of paper, using a range of colours. Ask ‘How many?’ questions, referring to the colour, size or thickness of the spirals.
  • Collect some garden snails and foliage. Place on a tabletop or in a shallow tray for the children to observe. Provide magnifying glasses and encourage the children to look closely at how the snails move and eat. Place some rigid, see-through plastic on the table for the snails to crawl over. Lift to allow the children to see the snail’s foot more clearly. Remember to return the snails to where you found them. Children should always wash their hands after handling any creatures
  • Collect objects with spirals such as seashells, snail shells, fossils, drill bits, screws, seed heads, woven placemats etc. for the children to examine and sort.
from left to right - spiral shell, snail shell photograph by James~Quinn used under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike licence 2.0, striped shell photograph by Arenamontanus used under the Creative Commons Attribution licence 2.0, screw photograph by Ella's Dad used under the Creative Commons Attribution licence 2.0


Use The Best Bug Parade by Stuart J Murphy ISBN 0064467007 to help explore the language of simple comparison.


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