Sunday, July 12, 2009

Numerical Oyster

It's wall-to-wall numbers at the moment. I don't know how many sets of Numberjacks I've cut out of paper in the last week. (For the uninitiated, the CBeebies show Numberjacks is about superheroes who are also numbers and solve maths-related problems.)

The Oyster is learning to count to 100. He frequently wants the numbers from 1 to 100 written out on a page, with circles around them, so he can colour in the circles. He usually does each column in a single colour, and I think he's working out various patterns.

He does like to go 1 2 3 5 4, 10 20 30 50 40, and so on, mind you. But he acknowledges that this is a personal quirk, and that he's simply choosing different labels to apply to the relevant quantities.

Have I ever mentioned "flower-1"? It's a very handy concept: a shortcut number that encompasses everything from 101 to 2000. So if you use it you can quite easily count up to, say, 2004, the year of the Oyster's birth. It's written with a flower (including stem and vase) and the number 1.

He's apparently synaesthetic around numbers. For the record, so I can compare later and see if it changes: 0 - dark blue, 1 - red, 2 - yellow, 3 - green, 4 - dark blue, 5 - red, 6 - yellow, 7 - red, 8 - light blue, 9 - dark blue, 10 - pink, 11 - green, 12 - light blue.

This activity all reminds me very much of the bit in John Holt's How Children Fail (or was it in ...Learn? - my copies are lent so I can't check), where he sits in his classroom with a roll of receipt paper and starts writing down the numbers in order, and the kids are dancing around in excitement and calling each other over to look - "Here's 88! Here's 129! Look - he's going to write 300 next!" - the simple fact of numerical progression being a new and exciting idea to some of them.

I love this stuff.


Maire said...

Fascinating isn't it, I like John Holt vision of number as little marching creatures to some children who could only see them as progression.

No seven to me was brown and I didn't like brown, wonder how that affected my school maths?

Ted Crelly said...

Please email me at and I'll send you some Numberjacks jpgs that might make your life easier!
All the best
Chris Ellis

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