Daddy Writes (Numberjacks and mathematics skill)

Time for a post from Daddy again, in praise of Numberjacks.

The Numberjacks DVD arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been running several times a day. Both Pippy (4) and Peter (2) love it.

However, quite apart from the entertainment value, the numeracy of both of them has taken a huge leap forward. Peter can (with help) count to 100 now, which isn’t bad going for a two year old. We tend to cheat, slightly, in that he and I will count alternately, with him doing the odd numbers, and me doing the evens, so the rollover from 29 to 30 is always daddy’s problem 🙂

With Pippy, however, is where it’s got a bit scarey.

A few weeks ago, she’d been watching the Numberjacks play with their “buddy blocks” (the little building block things they use to illustrate things like 3+3 = 6, and square numbers.)

Anyway, Pippy got out some of her building blocks, and decided they were buddy blocks, and brought them in to me one evening, announcing she wanted “Number Fun”. So I decided that we’d have a got at breaking down the numbers into prime factors (OK, I’m a pushy parent 🙂 ).

So, we wrote the numbers from 1 to 10, vertically,  on a piece of paper, and decided that we’d work out how to make up the numbers, by playing with the buddy blocks… 4 was 2 x 2, obviously, and 6 was then 2 x 3, but when we got to 8, she decided it was 2 x 4…

… so I pointed out that 4 was 2 x 2, and that meant that 8 was 2 x 2 x 2 – hence, prime factorisation.

She then noticed that 2, 3, 5 and 7 were, in her words, “tricky numbers”, so I explained that “tricky numbers” were called “prime numbers”.

I knew that Mary (aka mummy) had been carrying on the number fun with her, and that they’d prime factorised the numbers up to about 40… but nothing prepared me for what happened the other night, after she’d watched the Numberjacks use their buddy blocks for square and cube numbers.

Mary had said “A square number”, and I said “no, you mean a prime number”…

.. and Pippy, age 4, said “A square number that’s a prime number – ridiculous!”

Huh – a four year old who has independantly observed that square numbers cannot (by definition) be prime.  She’s in reception at school, for crying out loud, the target for this year is for her class to be able to count to 20!

Why aren’t Numberjacks mandatory viewing in schools? They seem to have got over some fairly sophisticated concepts very, very, early.


Tommy Zoom and The Pontipines’ song.

I’ve won twice in the two Tommy Zoom games on the CBeebies website as you just have to get all three stars to win – that’s in Super Zoom. Polluto is up to no good every time Tommy comes. Tommy always has to come when Polluto is about. Polluto and Smogg try to catch Tommy but Tommy keeps flying. Polluto can’t fly.

The Pontipines song is another one from CBeebies [Mummy writes – they are the tiny characters on In The Night Garden]. I like the Pontipines song because at the end it does a dance. It keeps going round and round the garden and every time it stops it goes in and out [Mummy writes – a bit like a country dance].