Monthly Archives: January 2017

Can’t sleep? Count chicks!

I have chosen to look at the picture book “Six Chicks” by Henrietta 1Branford in terms of the mathematical learning involved in the book.

The book tells the story of Red Hen, who is trying to get her 6 chicks to sleep. Red Hen tries many strategies to get her chicks to sleep, however, only one chick falls asleep at a time.

The book will familiarise children with number words up to 6 in a descending order, allowing them to practice the backwards sequence, which is often overlooked and is trickier for children to master.

While reading the story, the adult should try to get the children to count the chicks on the page – which should always be six – and the amount that are sleeping and awake. This will familiarise the children with numbers that add up to 6. For example, there are 3 chicks awake and 3 chicks sleeping; there are 6 chicks in total, therefore 3+3=6.

The adult could also use numerals alongside the story, as the book does not show the numeral with the number word. Every time the number word is said either point out the numeral to the children to highlight the connection between the two, or have the children point to the numeral if they are familiar with the numeral and number word connection.

I’m a Scientist!

We conducted an experiment to see which material was the most absorbent.

1We decided to change the type of material used (the dependent variable) and keep the amount of liquid used, the type of liquid, the surface and the size of the material the same (the independent variables). We measured the time taken for the liquid to be soaked up by the material.

Using the planning sheets prior to the investigation helps focus in on what you are looking for in your experiment. They also ensured that you had a controlled experiment, as it made sure you only changed one variable. This would be particularly helpful for children to begin the process of planning controlled investigations. 

We predicted that the thinner materials would soak up the water quicker and the thicker materials would soak up the water slower.

Making predictions helps the children concentrate on the outcome of their experiment. When making conclusions at the end of the experiment, what the children have learned will be clearer as they can compare their understanding to this point in the experiment. 

These were our results: 1
Card – 14.03
Tissue paper – 35.28
Paper Towel – 5.19
Toilet roll – 5.44

Results are the most important part of the investigation. The children learn the skill of recording data, how to interpret it and what that means to the investigation. This is where the relationship between maths and science is exemplified as the children are see the real life applications of the data analysis skills that they learn in maths class, using tables and graphs to display their results.

We found that the thickness of the material did not make the difference, as tissue paper is thin and did not absorb well. The important factor was the surface of the materials, as those which had indentations absorbed better. This is because when flattened out, the surface area would be greater, therefore the material could soak up more water.

Conclusions are where you see what the children have learned. In the case of the above experiment, we learned how absorbent materials such as kitchen roll and toilet paper work – due to the indentations, not the thickness of the material.

The planning sheets we used during this input were incredibly helpful in planning the experiment. They would be excellent to use in a classroom to keep the children on track and to give them a framework for investigation planning, which could be slowly removed to allow for independent work.

Do you wanna count the snowmen?


When looking at nursery rhymes to promote counting, especially with early years children, there were many that came to mind. I remember singing songs such as “Ten in the Bed” and “5 Little Speckled Frogs” when I was young, however, when researching one for this module, I found the rhyme above particularly useful.

Firstly, as in many of these rhymes, the songs use the number name sequence going from “5 little snowmen…” down to “1 little snowman”. This gets the children practicing the numeral names and can learn about counting backwards, as in school we tend to focus on counting forwards.

Secondly, the song counts the snowmen on the screen. This reinforces the numeral names and their sequence from 1 to 5. It also has the children counting forwards, which means they can practice both in this rhyme.

The third thing I particularly like about this rhyme is that they include a noise for every missing snowman. For example, when you get down to 2 snowmen, there are 3 “shh” noises after it. This leads the children into addition and counting on, as they are learning that there are 2 snowmen there and 3 missing to make the total of 5.

I think this rhyme is particularly good to be used in the early years classroom to promote counting, and could easily be extended beyond 5 when the children improve in their maths ability. The subject could be changed depending on season or even topic, making it a highly versatile resource.