Researchers at the University of Agder have cooperated closely for many years with teachers and early childhood educators on how to give children mathematical experience. Martin Carlsen is one of the researchers who believes that tiny tots can learn mathematical concepts. Among other things, they can do this through fairytales.
‘The idea of using fairytales was devised in collaboration with early childhood educators. We agreed that the fairytale about Goldilocks and the three bears was a good one for teaching mathematics’, Carlsen points out.
ONE IS TOO BIG, ONE IS TOO SMALL AND ONE IS JUST RIGHT
When Goldilocks discovers a little house among the trees deep in the forest, she finds three bowls of porridge. One is too hot, one is too cold and one is just right. Once she finishes the porridge in Baby Bear’s little bowl, Goldilocks tries a big, a medium-sized and finally a little tiny bed in the house. The last one is just right.
‘Children like numbers and counting. This fairytale offers many opportunities for counting and introducing mathematical concepts’, the researcher points out. Carlsen visited a kindergarten, armed with a camcorder, and filmed the kindergarten teacher as she told the fairytale to the children. He ascertained that the teacher managed to introduce quite a bit of mathematics during the fairytale.
However, it is not enough to simply read a fairytale, admonishes the researcher.
USING ONE’S VOICE, BODY AND FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
The kindergarten teacher who told the story of Goldilocks knew the fairytale by heart.
‘This is important. It allows the teacher to tell the story in a free, engaging manner, maintaining eye contact with the children’, Carlsen adds.
The kindergarten teacher used her voice, facial expressions and body language as tools to explain mathematical concepts clearly. Props were also used actively throughout the fairytale.