STEAM | 24 September 2015Counting and Colors for Little Ones Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The Learning Garden series is an insightfully developed set of concept books featuring counting and colors for little ones. Aino-Maija Metsola reveals herself to be more than an author/illustrator, intelligently weaving together key learning techniques known to facilitate early cognitive development. Counting is no exception. Children’s early experience of numeracy at home is incredibly important for their future success with maths. Studies consistently show that experiences of numeracy prior to school are highly predictive of later mathematical competence in primary school and beyond (Anders 2012; Aubery et al., 2006; Le Fevre et al., 2009). Counting represents an engaging and educationally rich tool for parents/caregivers to help support their child’s ability to count, as well as more complex conceptual understanding of numbers as distinct quantities. Metsola’s Counting presents one number per double-page spread, with the exception of 1, 2, and 3, which share a page. Throughout the book the child is engaged in a search-and-find game, which subtly integrates a range of number learning techniques. For example, when learning to count children benefit from seeing a variety of examples of the target number alongside other non-examples. Here, for the number six the child is presented with ‘6 things to wear’, alongside six coat hangers, eight pegs, and a washing basket. The child’s ability to count to six is encouraged by providing multiple opportunities to find and count six items from different sets. In addition, the child’s understanding of the number six as a quantity is enhanced, by helping the child recognise how it relates to other numbers (Sophian, 2007). In this case, ‘six’ things is more things than ‘one’ thing (the washing basket), but less than ‘seven’ things (the pegs). Likewise, during number development, the child also benefits from seeing different arrangements of a target number of items (Baroody et al., 2006). For the number five, the child is presented with five trees clustered together vertically, five birds clustered together horizontally, as well as five elephants dotted around the page. This will help the child understand that the quantity ‘five’ can look very different; it can be compiled of different categories of items, and be presented in different formats. Finally, studies show that children who point to items within a set whilst counting, and then circle the items within that set with their finger, show a better understanding of numbers as quantities (Suriyakham, 2007). Counting presents sets of items clustered together on a distinct coloured background. In this way, the book is completing this process for the child, highlighting the items as a set, and therefore making it easy for the child to visualize the target quantity. In addition, Counting provides children with the opportunity to learn and consolidate their knowledge of other categories by presenting each new colourful double-page spread as a new set of related items. The book covers common British wildlife, exotic animals, vehicles, and pets, to name a few. Instead of simply giving the child one obvious set of objects to count, Metsola provides opportunities to compare, contrast and count different sub-categories within the page’s given category set. This is done whilst circling back to the target number on the page. For example, under a flap showing a picture of a flamingo on the page devoted to five, the child is told that the flamingo ‘flaps its wings’, and is asked to count five black birds. This tells the child that birds can look very different and that one of the defining characteristics of a ‘bird’ is its wings. Finally, throughout the book Metsola uses bright block colours, giving parents the opportunity to encourage their children to name colours as they go. The Learning Garden books series goes beyond the simple rote learning of concepts by promoting learning by categorisation, a process at the core of early learning. The series also promotes multisensory learning, a process of enhancing learning by engaging more than one sense. The child is encouraged to search and find items dispersed around a page and under flap, exercising both vision and haptics (the sense of movement and touch). The books are charmingly illustrated, and will no doubt be incredibly appealing to the young child with vibrant block colours and sturdy flaps. For more visuals, visit: http://www.wideeyededitions.com/book/counting/ Counting Author: Aino-Maija Metsola Format: Board book, 14 Pages ISBN: 9781847806109 Publisher: Wide-Eyed Editions Buy from an Online Retailer US (Pub Date: Feb 4, 2016): UK (Pub Date: Mar 5, 2015): Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.