My littlest girl, Charis, is starting nursery after Christmas. Yikes!
Yes, I know I’ve done this before so it shouldn’t seem like a big deal… but it does. As a second-timer, I know that this is the start of independence. There will be huge chunks of her day that I know nothing about. She will have friends that I only know by name, and interests that I can’t take part in.
It’s one of the hardest things about being a mum – our ultimate goal is to prepare our kids to leave us…!
But, as much as I’m dreading this new chapter, it’s not about me. It’s about Charis. And I know that I need to prepare my little girl as best I can.
So I’m on a mission to bring her up to speed on her nursery subjects.
The Curious Dragons
When I was contacted by The Curious Dragons to review their maths games for 3-5 year olds, the timing couldn’t have been better. Charis is well on her way to knowing all her letters (thanks to the brilliant Alphablocks show) but I have been struggling to know how to introduce maths concepts to her.
The Curious Dragons are three colourful dragon characters who feature in a variety of mathematical games. Each box contains five games of increasing difficulty to help children get to grips with maths.
**(and keep reading because I have an extra set of The Curious Dragons to give away!)**
I am a big advocate for learning through play so I was keen to give it a go. We were sent the first box which is all about “counting with understanding”.
At three years old, Charis was at the lower age limit for the box and so we stuck to the first two games. She loved counting the dragon eggs and putting the correct number in each nest. The spinner was also a big hit.
Game 3 relies more heavily on recognising numbers (1, 2, 3, etc) rather than counting so we’ll need to work up to this. But I can really see how repeating these first two games is going to give Charis a good foundation to build on. Then, as she learns more, we can move onto the more complex games.
I contacted the creator of The Curious Dragons for an interview to find out a bit more about the concept and also to get some tips on introducing little ones to maths.
Interview with Lisa from The Curious Dragons
Please tell me a bit about your background and why you decided to create The Curious Dragons.
I am a maths teacher and mum to a fabulous daughter. I created The Curious Dragons to provide young children with an excellent foundation in maths through play.
This first box is called “counting with understanding” but we are also designing boxes that look at shapes and addition.
Your maths programme is based on the Singapore Maths Method. Please could explain a bit more about what that is.
The Singapore Maths Method brings together maths teaching strategies from across the globe. The aim is to develop pupils’ mathematical ability and confidence without having to resort to memorising procedures.
One of the key principles is the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach (CPA), based on research by psychologist Jerome Bruner. In The Curious Dragons we have tweaked this principle and come up with:
- Touch It! – role play with real objects
- Visualise It! – translate real objects into images, diagrams and pictures
- Symbolise It! – use mathematical symbols to solve problems
The 5 games in Box 1 are for children aged 3-5yrs. What sort of mathematical knowledge would you expect a 3 year old child to have?
For a three year old, I would be looking for them to be developing their sense of number and the importance of numbers in our world. They may be starting to say how many of an object, rather than just saying “a few”.
And where would we be aiming to be by age 5?
Every child is different – my husband really struggled at maths in primary school and then ended up with an A in A level maths!
But as a general idea, I would expect a five year old child to:
- Count to 100 confidently
- Count in 2s and 5s
- Have developed their understanding of addition and subtraction
- Be confident with simple number bonds
- Be developing their understanding of measurements
How can I help to prepare my child for learning maths at school?
Have fun with numbers and shapes.
- Perhaps have your child close their eyes and then slowly drop objects into a tin – your child has to tell you how many objects you dropped in
- Or make a scrap book for the different numbers up to 10
There are lots of fun things you can do with your preschooler to prepare them for learning maths at school, including of course playing The Curious Dragons.
Do you have any tips for incorporating maths into everyday life?
Maths is everyday life! Whether it is counting out goodies for party bags, or discussing the shapes of different objects, or thinking about cause and effect, maths is all around us.
Sometimes it is quicker and tidier to do things ourselves as adults. But including our children in baking – counting out the eggs, measuring the milk, etc – not only gives them opportunities to develop their maths tool kit, but also helps them see the importance of maths in everyday life.
Maths is often seen as a difficult subject. Why do you think this is? And how can I help my child to have a positive attitude towards maths?
Many people’s experience of maths is memorising a set of procedures and reproducing them in an exam. There is no understanding of why those procedures work. This is a boring and an ineffective way to teach maths – it relies too much on memory and not enough on the person’s powers of deduction and logic.
However, developing children’s understanding of mathematical concepts and exposing them to interesting, unfamiliar problems means they are much more likely to be engaged and make meaningful progress.
Remember – your own attitude to maths will impact your child’s. Don’t expect them to struggle, but if they do, try and find a real life example to help them understand what they’re doing. Here’s an example:
If they are struggling with the six times tables, make some columns of six lego bricks. Then, when you say 1 x 6, they hold up one of their columns of six bricks and count them. Then 2 x 6 and let them count them. And keep going. Then when they come to their six times table they will have the picture of the lego bricks, but also remember a fun time with mum.
I’m a mum to two girls. Statistically speaking, boys are 4 times more likely to end up in core STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) occupations than girls. What do you think we can do to combat this?
There are a few things we can do. Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Help our daughters feel that they are successful at maths and science
- Share an interest in the sciences and maths with them (e.g. by carrying out a simple science experiment such as “will it sink or float?”
- Talk about the importance of maths and science with our girls
- Share stories of female role models within STEM occupations
Thank you so much, Lisa. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the maths principles I need to be teaching my girls, and I’m sure we will have lots of fun learning with The Curious Dragons games.
Charis is already a big fan and ambushed her daddy the minute he got in from work, demanding he play her new games (true story!). Initially, she was just counting and waving her finger around, but already she is learning to point and count, allocating a number to each item. It’s great to see her problem-solving and you just can’t beat that light-bulb moment when something finally clicks!
Giveaway and discount code
And I am very excited because Lisa and the team are letting me host a competition to give away one of their fabulous “counting with understanding” boxes! This box will be just like ours – five individual games for children aged 3-5yrs, that gradually progress their mathematical understanding through play.
To enter, use the Rafflecopter Widget below – you can use as many entry options as you like – and remember to check out the terms and conditions underneath.
The competition will end on Wednesday 13th December 2017.
But if you can’t wait that long, I also have an EXCLUSIVE discount code for you! Simply go to The Curious Dragons website and enter lucyathome at the checkout. You’ll get 10% off your purchase – perfect for Christmas! This is available for the first 50 customers so get your skates on!
Terms and conditions
The Curious Dragons Box 1 Giveaway
No Purchase Necessary. Giveaway starts Wednesday 15th November 2017 at 00:00 GMT and ends Thursday 14th December at 00:00 GMT. UK entrants only. Entrants must be 18 years old or over. One winner will be selected at random using the random winner generator within Rafflecopter. The prize is The Curious Dragons Box 1: Counting With Understanding worth £29.99. The winner will be contacted by email and their name will be displayed on the giveaway page using the Rafflecopter widget. Where possible, I will also tweet the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. No cash alternative. Please note that The Curious Dragons are responsible for fulfilling this prize and Lucy At Home is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfil their prizes. I have represented the sponsor with the expectation they will fulfil their prize and in a timely manner. I will only be passing your details onto the sponsor so that they can contact you regarding your prize. I will not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. Please note that in order to qualify for the Twitter entries, a valid account that clearly identifies the holder as being a Twitter user is needed, and any entrants found to be using multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible.
Disclaimer: We were gifted our box from The Curious Dragons for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. For more info, check out my disclosure policy.