Leap-frog the maths barriers

17th March 2000 at 00:00
FUNTASTIC FROGS: LDA. Counters pound;16.95 for pack of 24 large, 24 medium and 60 small; pound;12.50 for pack of 108 small counters. Photocopiable books pound;7.95 each; pound;59.95 for a set of 10. Activity cards pound;9.95. Board game pound;14.95. Age range: key stage 1

Funtastic Frogs counters are a new resource for teaching early mathematical concepts. These delightful plastic frogs come in three sizes and six bright colours - that's the fun part - and young children find them irresistible. They are ideal for basic counting, sorting and matching activities - that's the fantastic bit.

The frogs are weight related and each one has a hole for threading, which enables a good range of pattern-making and counting activities to take place. The laces provided for threading are sealed at each end to make them easy for small fingers to use. But the frogs do carry safety symbols (not recommended for children under three) and choking hazard warnings - the smallest frogs look nice enough to eat.

To extend learning, a selection of additional resources is available, including sorting and lacing sets, four sets of activity cards, board games, and 10 photocopiable maths books, each covering basic numeracy tasks.

The frogs were so appealing to children at Casterton Community College, near Stamford, Rutland, that they couldn't wait to get their hands on them.

The board game in its basic form is excellent for four-year-olds. Gong once around the board is simple and reinforces colour and number recognition and develops counting, addition and subtraction. The game can be made more complex for older, more able children by adding frogs and using the extra dice.

Funtastic Frogs offers scope for independent learning and some of the children made up their own version of the board game, which worked well. More competent children were able to thread the frogs to create and match patterns without help.

The children loved the plus and minus dice and, unprompted, made up their own addition and subtraction exercises in order to use them.

The activity books are sequenced by level of difficulty. Activities can easily be modified if they are too challenging. They cover counting and numbers, matching and sorting, measuring, making patterns, balancing numbers, making graphs, beginning problem solving, mental mathematics, addition and subtraction, and beginning multiplication and division.

Young children learn best from practical activities but the plastic frogs interacting with the page captured the children's imagination and maintained their interest.

The frogs make excellent finger puppets and appeared at story time and our singing sessions too!

Lizards Louis and Frankie of the Budweiser advertisement had better watch out. Those frogs are smarter than you'd think.

Lorraine Frankish

LDA stand R32

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