Thursday, 1 April 2021

Let's Visit Numberland!

The Numberland Numbers from Haba. 

 In November 2020 I was fortunate to watch an episode of Early Years TV where Kathy Brodie interviewed Barbara Schindelhauer from Numberland. I just loved Barbara's enthusiasm for maths and the concept of Numberland really appealed to me as it encouraged deeper thinking about numbers and attributes of number than just by colour, shape or size. You can visit Barbara's website here: Numberland

It reminded me of a visit to a Swedish preschool where I saw young children using much deeper thinking about same and different than we would normally see in our settings, a child had brought 3 things that were different to show the teacher and one of the attributes was that the dinosaur was extinct and the other animals were still alive, it was far beyond the 'They all have 4 legs or are green ' that I expected. 

In Numberland each number has a house a garden, I loved that the houses had the amount of corresponding windows for each number and the gardens were shapes that could also have properties connected to that number e.g. a triangle for number 3, a pentagon for number 5 etc. I know as a preschool teacher that young children have no problem seeing anything as an animate object and I knew my class would love the wooden numbers with their faces and the fact that each number has a matching attribute to their numberness e.g. number 2 has 2 feathers on the hat, number 9 has 9 teeth. 

I made contact with Barbara straight afterwards and we began chatting through messenger and I ended up buying a set of the wooden numbers for my classroom. When they arrived I was so impressed by the quality and couldn't wait for the children to explore with them. Of course then we went back into lockdown and remote learning so the children didn't get to actually play with them until March. However I took them home with me so I could start to use them with the children during some live sessions. I was fortunate to have some little wooden houses that I could use for numbers as they had the right number of windows. During the live sessions I would hold up a house and the children would shout whose house it was & then they had to go get that same number of objects to show me. 

These wooden houses from Cosy were just perfect!

I had also downloaded the printable booklet from Numberland and it allowed me to make up laminated paper copies of the numbers, houses and gardens for the children to interact with more readily once we got back to nursery.

The printable Numberland resources. 

The wooden resources are made by Haba in Germany and anyone who has ever come across their products knows just how beautifully made and robust they are. Whilst a colleague was searching for a local supplier for the HABA fire pit she came across an Irish supplier called Jaggo Educational and I was delighted to discover they not only sold the fire pit but also all the Numberland resources, as it was becoming harder for them to be sourced from Germany thanks to Brexit. You can visit their website and specifically the Numberland resources here: Jaggo

The HABA fire pit that we use weekly in nursery. 
Once we got chatting to Jaggo about supplying schools in the North of Ireland a new partnership was formed & I ended up buying a fire pit for my garden too.
I also got the Numberland set of wooden houses, more numbers and number lane and blocks to try out with my class. 

I set the room up for a visit to Numberland and incorporated some of the Play to Learn More methods (read more about that here: Play to Learn More)
The children loved the concept of going to visit the numbers in their land and getting to see where they lived etc. After a few small group sessions I then allowed the children to just play freely with the numbers and their houses - 0-4. It was lovely to hear them chatting to each other and saying 'hey number 2 can I come visit you?' and 'Number 3 you would like this bike because it has 3 wheels' etc.
For after Easter I have set up 1-3 on a little table for the children to play with and during Numberland sessions in small groups we can explore more deeply who or what might visit each number because of their attibutes e.g. a cat could visit number 1 because she has 1 tail or number 4 because of her legs etc. 

I can't wait to see the children interact more and more with these beautiful resources and to learn more from Barbara.