Tag Archives: learning through play

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale
Robie H. Harris and Chris Chatterton
Walker Books

Block play elephant style is pretty much the same as that of young children particularly when little Elephant has such a wonderful resource to use.

Kneeling on a carpeted floor our pachyderm starts stacking; his aim to build a tower the same height as he is (intention). How many more do I need he wonders (estimating) .

‘1 2 3 4’, he counts the precariously balanced blocks, then hurrah! – arms stretched out wide in celebration (self-expression and self-esteem).

Elephant stands beside the stacked blocks (comparing/measuring), but almost inevitably given the unstableness of his stack CRASH! BOOM! Disaster …

Elephant though is not one to give up so easily. “It has to be as tall as ME!” he reaffirms. (resilience and determination).
He stops and thinks about the placement of that first block …

before starting to build another tower, self-questioning as he goes until, 8 blocks high it’s “WHOOPEE!” Success! This time Elephant gives the tower a celebratory bottom bash sending his stack crashing.
He still isn’t finished though; it’s time to experiment with that very long block and those others he’s yet to play with … “What if” – imagining. (love that one)

until …

(testing hypotheses, problem-solving, spatial awareness, balance, concentration)

Harris introduces a multitude of maths concepts along with a host of other learning possibilities of block play.  Chatterton’s simple, uncluttered, but oh so telling, illustrations show not only Elephant’s learning but also his sheer joy in his experience.

Those, like myself who champion the activity – especially with the kind of equipment in Chris Chatterton’s photographic collages, will celebrate this book and want to show it to anybody who ever thought block play was mere messing around: they need to read it right away. It’s such a brilliant example of learning through play, made even better because the publishers let the story speak for itself.

After you share it with young humans (and any elephants that happen to be around), make sure you have a large set of wooden blocks available; they’re sure to be inspired.

Let’s Go to Nursery! / Will You Be My Friend?

Let’s Go to Nursery!
Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia
Walker Books
We join Bee and Billy (and their mums) at the door of a nursery. The session is already in full swing with all kinds of exciting activities taking place. The children give their mums a farewell hug and Bee eagerly begins to join in. Billy however, is more reluctant and a tad clingy. He soon gets drawn in though, thanks to a ‘message’ full of kindness …

Happy noisy play ensues until there’s a dispute over ownership of a large toy; but Billy, surely a fast learner, comes to the rescue and all is well once more.
There’s so much fun to be had, so many things to share and so much playful learning – just how it should be.

All too soon though, it’s time to help tidy up; the mums are back and it’s farewell until tomorrow: a happy, exhausting day spent and the prospect of many more to come.
Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia paint a lively portrait of nursery life without the intrusion of the nursery staff: they, one hopes, are observing and sometimes, gently encouraging and perhaps guiding, unobtrusively from the side-lines.
The first of the First Experiences series for ‘a new generation of little readers’ the publishers say. Perhaps ‘little listeners’ would be more accurate, but no matter which, its intended young audience will find plenty to enjoy; it’s as well that the book is sturdily made with wipe-clean pages as I foresee a lot of enthusiastic handling.

Will You Be My Friend?
Molly Potter and Sarah Jennings
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
This is a title from Bloomsbury’s Featherstone imprint and has something of an educational slant: There’s plenty to think about and discuss; and the whole thing is invitingly illustrated with a sequence of vignettes. These are captioned and each spread opens with a question on an aspect of friendship: ‘What do you do when a friend upsets you?’ and ‘What do your friends think of you?’ for instance. Notes from a friendly puggish pup offer further food for thought at the bottom of each right hand page.

A final spread is aimed at parents, although I see this book being used in preschool and KS1 sessions on ‘What makes a good friend?’ too. It’s all very nicely and inclusively done though personally, I prefer emotional and social learning to be part and parcel of picture books’ stories rather than books specially created for the purpose.

I’ve signed the charter