Thus begins Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline, a book published in 1933 that has since become a classic and inspired movies and television shows around the world.
Five in a Row suggests doing math activities around the “twelve little girls in two straight lines.” We sorted, counted, added, subtracted, and even divided using sigay shells as manipulatives to represent the 12 little girls.
Manipulatives are important to make math concrete and exciting for young children.
Concepts become more real and easily understood when touched with one’s hands. In the early years just about anything can be used as manipulatives.
- Count – How many are red? Give me five yellow beads
- Compare – How are these candies alike? Which group has more?
- Sort – Put all small, red paper clips on this side and the big, red paper clips on the other side
- Classify – Which child (jar) is the smallest? And the largest?
- Order – Can you arrange the girls (bottles) from smallest to largest?
- Simple Arithmetic – How many girls are there? What if Madeline went to the bathroom, how many girls would be left? Oh! Two girls joined them, how many are they all now?
An idea for the busy, working mom
If you happen to be reading a book with your child that mentions a number, like Madeline, take off from there. Grab some cotton balls from the bathroom and have an instant learning moment with your child. By doing some of the activities above, your child can also play pretend, practice fine motor skills, explore textures, and generally just have some fun with you.