Monday, 15 February 2021

Number books

  Simon writes:

Estelle has tried helicopter stories before - hearing children's stories, writing them down for them exactly as they tell them, and then giving the class the chance to act out the stories on a classroom 'stage'. (We've discovered Vivian Gussin Paley, who made great use of this approach. We've read her brilliant Mollie is Three, and are moving onto The Girl with the Brown Crayon.)

Z (4 yo) sat down to begin a book. Like this. She tells me what to write in my story book, and wants it on the page too.
The second page followed:
Two other children had joined her:
At some point, W decided this was going to be a number book. There was one cat on the first pages, and two cats on the next pages. It would carry on like that.

She wrote out the numbers, copying them from the wall.
'I've just learned to write five!'
And into the afternoon:
From seven onwards, there was a lot of counting and checking the numbers:

Z was really pleased with her book, smiling and laughing at how much she was writing and drawing, and loving her creations! The whole group spent about an hour on it in the morning and another in the afternoon. It was also a leap forward with writing numbers. Perhaps she needed the reason to use the numbers to be motivated enough to try and write them.

A week later, Z made a little book with some pretend writing. Estelle had been talking to me about encouraging her class that it was OK to do this, but, without a word from me, Z knew this was a good thing to do.

The book grew to be up to ten. Later she read her writing to me:
  1. All about the number 1, because 1 is a tiny number and zero is nothing.
  2. 2 and 2 equals 4.
  3. Number 3 is big enough to be a monster.
  4. Number 4 is big enough to be a zombie.
  5. I feel so alive. You know that you've arrived when you're with number 5.
  6. Look what you do. You look good.
  7. Let's say number 7. Look how I work with this information book.
  8. I'm 8 always. And you can see 5. This number likes 5 because they're friends.
  9. This number is very tricky, but more easy than paint.
  10. And then, let's look at number 10. 10 is big enough to be a dinosaur.
I wrote it all down in my story book, and read it back to her. Later she asked Steph to copy it all into her book. Again, she was really pleased with her book, and keen to take it home.

It's very interesting to me how different people's paths to loving numbers are. Counting is really working for some children, with our How Many? images going well, Pass it On and Numicon games are good with others, Numberblocks episodes are doing it for others (Numberblocks pop into Z's book at number 5, with a line from the number 5 song). For Z, a way in is being an author, and finding out that she could make substantial books that had an integrity of their own and would be exciting to share with others.

Since then, I've shared her work with the class, making some blank zigzag books available with numbers 1-7 on pages. I'm going to get some blank stapled books out on the table too.

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