Several steps along from colouring in

PLATFORM MATHS 1 2 3. By Liz Hopkins. Leopard Learning Pounds 13 each. National Curriculum Key Stage 1; Scottish Level A B

Leopard Learning is a new educational publisher, using Liz Hopkins, who is an experienced classroom practitioner, to write these number skills materials for the early years. Its market research suggested that early years teachers lament the lack of sufficient reinforcement material and schemes which understand the need for small incremental learning steps. Platform Maths aims to address these points and also offers low readability, using a rebus (symbol system) and a neutral artwork style. This makes the material viable for older children with special educational needs.

The contentsrecord-sheet pages certainly highlight the effort to reinforce basic concepts, with at least two and often as many as 10 activities focusing on specific stages of number-handling. Counting, ordering, addition and subtraction up to five, for example, have over 20 activity sheets between them. The work involves adding one, partitioning sets, complementing groups, reversing a process and so on. Children are engaged in tasks which invariably demand some thought and involve an increasing degree of contributory recording. In a number of other schemes, pupils are engaged in little more than colouring in. Follow-up work involving fully independent recording and increasingly sophisticated extension challenges are suggested at the foot of each photocopiable worksheet. A simple reward system involving page-corner collectables which can be pasted onto a card, rather like the old Co-op divi stamps.

The presentation is crisp and uncluttered, and uses artwork which shows a degree of respect for increasingly sophisticated pupils.

While any copy-based resources can become expensive, many early years schemes consist of costly pre-collated workbooks which fail to offer a satisfactory progression to meet the needs of individuals or groups. Pages are wasted or time is wasted. Here, at least, it is possible to pick and mix from an extensive repertoire of useful tasks, with a fine gradation of differentiation.

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