For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term loose parts, check out my post on the theory of loose parts. In simple terms, loose parts are moveable objects that can be used to create, explore and discover.
Educators often collect loose parts for their environments. Collections include buttons, feathers, beads, coins, shells and seeds. Loose parts are added to clay and dough, left in baskets around the room, used for weighing and measuring, to create art, on light and mirror tables and added to block play. I think though, that sometimes educators over-complicate loose parts. We get so excited about the different things we can provide for the children and the beautiful ways we can present them, that it is easy to forget the true essence of the theory of loose parts.
I was reminded as I played with my daughter at the park, that loose parts are everywhere. If we as educators don’t provide loose parts, the children will find them. A brick will become a piece of food, a calculator is a telephone, a sheet will become a cloak or torn paper will be money. Playing with loose parts is the way I played as a child, playing shops with empty boxes or filling empty bottles with leaves, petals, dirt and water. For the child, loose parts are everywhere, they probably don’t call them loose parts but they will find them.
For me the theory of loose parts is an attitude to how children play. It is an acceptance that children may use what is in their environment and make their own choices about what to do with it. Materials do not have to be displayed or stored beautifully, they simply need to be there. The following video illustrates children’s natural ability to find and use loose parts creatively.
As I was browsing books for the younger ones for Christmas, I discovered a brand new Charlie and Lola book called ‘One Thing’. With great excitement, I quickly contacted friends from the UK who were coming to visit and asked them to bring a copy. I didn’t know what it was about but as the Charlie and Lola books are amongst our favourites, I was looking forward to finding out.
As an additional surprise, a new Ruby Redfort book popped into my recommended items. It may seem a little sad, but I react in the same way to a new Lauren Child book as I would to news of a concert from my favourite artist. My eldest daughter loves Ruby Redfort and I usually pre-order them but somehow I had missed this one. Her face was a picture when she unwrapped it on Christmas day. She says this is her 2nd favourite in the series, beaten marginally by the first book. On finishing the book, she immediately wrote a letter to Lauren Child, explaining how much she enjoyed it, asking her questions and telling her about her own life. Through Lauren Child’s writing, children sense a genuine interest in what they think, feel and do which I believe, compelled my daughter to correspond.
One Thing is Lauren Child’s 5th Charlie and Lola book. Most Charlie and Lola books are adapted from the television scripts. The television series is based on Lauren Child’s characters and she collaborates closely with the script writers but there are only 5 Charlie and Lola books written by Lauren Child:-
We love the television series but the Charlie and Lola books from the series don’t have the same sparkle for me, so I am always brimming with excitement when a new one from Lauren Child is released.
‘One Thing’ did not disappoint my giant expectations. In usual Lauren Child fashion, ‘One Thing’ captures perfectly the workings of a young child’s mind. The story begins when ‘mum’ promises Charlie and Lola ‘one thing’ when they go shopping. The book takes you on a number journey, tapping into the minds of children like my own, who count everything and work out number problems in their head.
Lola talks about numbers and Charlie gets frustrated, adding up the time it takes Lola to get anywhere. All of the number references are displayed as sums, puzzles or hidden numbers in the illustrations. It is a wonderful introduction to maths for young children but ‘One Thing’ is more than an educational number book. The book recognises the natural way that children see numbers everywhere and is full of discoveries for an inquisitive mind.
One Thing is a delight for adults to read. I particularly identified with Lola’s constant distractions and Charlie and mum’s negotiations with her,
“What are you doing?” I say.
Lola says “I am just trying to count the dots on my dress but I am not sure what comes after twelve.”
I say “Missing going to the shops comes after twelve.”
It is a perfect example of a picture book where text and illustrations are dependent on one another, each enriching the other. I asked the girls what they liked about the book,
“I like finding all the numbers” said my 5-year-old “and I like Charlie and Lola”.
Each time we read it we find something new, from the title page with handwritten numbers,
…to discovering the number of minutes it takes Charlie to get ready hidden in the pictures,
“Oh look the toothpaste is a number 3”.
This was their favourite page.
They returned to it multiple times, trying to find the numbers hidden on the birds. We couldn’t find a number 3, perhaps you will have better luck.
Thank you Lauren Child for another book to treasure.
One Thing is available in hardback in the UK and for pre-order in the US.
Disclaimer: This is a personal recommendation. I completely, absolutely did not get paid or get free stuff for writing this post.
I wouldn’t recommend that you teach a child mathematical concepts via a DVD, however for all of us the electronic babysitter is at times a necessary evil . If the kids are going to watch DVDs without me I’d like to know that it’s well made and entertaining and if it’s educational too that’s an added bonus. Our kids watch DVDs in the car on long journeys, I think my husband may throw the Mr Men out of the window if he hears the music one more time, so a new addition to the collection is always welcome.
My 2 year old and 7 year old watched the DVD together, I didn’t expect the 7 year old to enjoy a DVD about counting but actually it has lots of levels and would appeal to a mixture of ages. She managed to watch it till the end and I even caught her joining in with the counting in 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. The story revolves around Tad and Lily ,a girl and a boy frog who are finding maths difficult and go on a journey to space where they see how maths can be applied in all kinds of contexts. It explores simple concepts like counting to 10, but also counting backwards, counting in 2’s 5’s and 10’s , following repeated patterns, sorting by shape, size and colour and simple addition. Many of these are introduced using a catchy song helping to engage the younger children. My 2 year old has asked to watch it again after watching a few times so I think it will be popular with her. I would say it is ideally suited to children aged between 2 and 6. It lasts around 40 minutes and there are additional features including 5 songs and a sorting game.
It is a good quality, entertaining DVD that I think children would enjoy for a number of years before growing out of it. Don’t use it as a quick fix to teach your child maths, but if you want to use it to back up playful, active mathematical learning then I think it is a good choice.
This never before seen on television title is released on May 9th with an RRP. of £9.99.
I have 3 copies of this DVD to give away. To be in with a chance simply subscribe to my blog or post a comment on any of my posts before 9th May . Winners will be chosen at random on that date.
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Only available to UK residents.
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