Brought to bear
LINK 'N' LEARN FLASHCARDS Pounds 5 COUNTING FRAME Pounds 4.25 FRUITY FUN COUNTERS Pounds 11 COMPARE BEARS Pounds 7.99 COMPARE BEARS STAMP Pounds 10 PAD AND STICKERS Pounds 7.85 DOMINOES Pounds 7 PICTURE MEASURING TAPES Pounds 9.50 Age group: 5-7
TTS, Unit 4, Park Road, Holmewood, Chesterfield S42 5uy Freephone 0800 318686
TTS has produced another batch of infant and early years goodies. If you have not yet come across Compare Bears, you have missed a simple but hugely popular resource. They come in a box of 80, in three sizes, weights and colours red, yellow and blue plastic, accompanied by a booklet of ideas for using them.
You can play Daddy Bears, Mummy Bears and Baby Bears, with no end to the combinations and computations. They can be weighed to find that two babies equals one mummy and you can line them up at a bus stop for encouraging positional language. The bears now have a child-safe ink pad and stamp pad and a pack of stickers, introducing three new bears in three new colours.
Fruity Fun counters and Link 'n' Learn are used for the same type of activity, ie sorting, pattern, counting, play, measures and mathematical discussion. I prefer the bucket of squashy plastic fruits to Link 'n' Learn, which consists of a bucket of large, coloured plastic paper clips. The fruits are attractive and good to handle, which, like Compare Bears, would suit children with particular needs.
Link 'n' Learn has an accompanying set of flash cards which show rows of different combinations of the links which children have to try to copy. The links are reasonably easy to manipulate but it could be frustrating for children to find that you can't make a row of links lie flat and neat as shown on the flash cards.
Two less useful resources are the tapes and the counting frame. The picture measuring tapes are floppy plastic lengths of repeating animals. I'm not sure how helpful it is to describe a length as, say, three-and-a-half elephants, when children know an elephant would be a great deal bigger.
The counting frame looks strange, a wiggly wire frame on a board with 10 red balls threaded on the wire. It is used by children sitting at each end, hiding their beads and the partner guessing how many they have hidden. This is a good activity, but the same can be done by hiding cubes in the upturned pot.
The pack of dominoes would be very useful, because it consists of six double sets rather than the usual type of domino. This means that the combinations are greater and the possible number activities extend into larger numbers.