Here’s our list of recommended products and resources. You don’t have to buy any of them: the course can be completed without any additional materials. You can make your own alphabet charts and Numicon cards, borrow dice from board games and raid your craft box for pencils. As busy parents, however, we don’t always have the time to make things from scratch and that’s what this page is for.
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Week 1 | The Print-Rich Environment
The colours are ugly and your home will look like a primary school classroom but these charts and mats are highly effective. For a more muted version, why not make your own? Search for illustrations on Google Images, print them out and colour them in. You can also cut out pictures from magazines or print out photos. Just make sure you use the right sounds. If in doubt, pick the most common sound. For example, your alphabet chart should have ‘c’ for ‘cat’, not ‘c’ for ‘cycle’; ‘g’ for ‘goat’ not ‘g’ for ‘giraffe’.
‘G’ is not for ‘Giraffe’ and ‘O’ is not for ‘Owl’. Giraffes and owls look nice on a poster but they don’t begin with the right sound. It’s important to teach the most common sound associated with each letter first. So /g/ as in ‘goat’; /o/ as in octopus. The alphabet placemat above is perfect but I can’t find a chart I recommend they all contain at least one error. This one comes close but the ‘G’ is wrong. Fortunately, the sounds are all on loose cards. Why not make your own sound cards and slot them in. You don’t have to do so for all the letters. We had fun adding photos of friends and family in ours. G is for Granny.
Week 2 | Pencil Grip
I love these pencils. Triangular in profile, they guide the fingers to use the correct pencil grip. And the small bobbles ensure the pencil won’t slip, meaning your child won’t have to grip so tightly to hold it in position. She can instead focus on her creations.
Week 3 | Maths
You can make your own but a 100 square is essential. There is an argument that they should start at 0 to anchor the counting but a 100 square without 100 is a bit odd. This brilliant board comes with coloured tiles to highlight focus numbers (for example if you are learning to count in 5s) and the depressions can hold snap cubes when you’re ready to progress to more challenging activities.
In Week 3 we look at subitizing, the idea that you can quickly recognise small quantities without having to count them. By dividing the row of 10 beads into two groups of 5, it makes it much easier to quickly find the total. 8 is clearly all five reds plus three whites.
Perhaps my favourite maths resource of all time. The rods come in lengths from 1 to 10. At school children will use these to understand addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But for our preschoolers, it’s enough to leave them to explore the materials. Combine with number rod track (below) to make further connections.
Weighing and measuring are the subject of a later module but for now, as you can see from the image, a balance can be used to get a sense of the size of a number. You discover that an ‘8’ numicon weighs the same as 4 + 3 + 1 or 2 + 2 + 2 + 2.
Made by Numicon. For use with Cuisenaire rods. Discover how many 2s there are in 10, how many 5s there are in 30. The Cuisenaire rods are laid in the grooves that run down the middle of the track.
Secretly remove a number. Can you guess which one it is? What is 10 more than 27? Just go down one. What is one less than 56? Just go left one. So much to learn from so simple a device.