The role of pictures in picture books

Iliada Elia, Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen and Alexia Georgiou have written an article about The role of pictures in picture books on children’s cognitive engagement with mathematics. This article was published in the last issue of European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. Here is the abstract of their article:

The present study examines the cognitive activity that is evoked in young children when they are read a picture book that is written for the purpose of teaching mathematics. The focus of this study is to explore the effects of pictures on children’s spontaneous mathematical cognitive engagement. The study is based on the assumption that the pictures in a picture book that is aimed at supporting children’s learning of mathematics can have story-related components and mathematics-related components. The story-related components of the pictures contribute to grasp the global story context of the text and the mathematics-related components help to understand the mathematical content of the story. All of the pictures of the book under investigation, Six brave little monkeys in the jungle, have both story-related and mathematics-related components included. The pictures have a representational or an informational function. Four 5-year-old children were read individually the book by one of the authors without any probing. A detailed coding framework was used for analyzing the children’s utterances that provided an in-depth picture of the children’s cognitive activity. The results show that the picture book as a whole has the potential for cognitively engaging children. However, the pictures with a representational function were found to elicit mathematical thinking to a greater extent than the pictures with an informational function. Moreover, this was found for both types of components included in the pictures. Findings are discussed, practical implications for using picture books in kindergarten are drawn and suggestions for further research are made. 

Kindergarten mathematics with ‘Pepe the Rabbit’

Chrysanthi Skoumpourdi has written an article that was published in the last issue of European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. The article is entitled Kindergarten mathematics with ‘Pepe the Rabbit’: how kindergartners use auxiliary means to solve problems. Here is the abstract of the article:

The aim of this paper is to investigate the role that auxiliary means (manipulatives such as cubes and representations such as number line) play for kindergartners in working out mathematical tasks. Our assumption was that manipulatives such as cubes would be used by kindergartners easily and successfully whereas the number line would be used by kindergartners rarely and usually unsuccessfully. Through analysis of the 20 children’s (5-years-old) answers which concerned the number sequence as well as simple addition and subtraction problems it appears that although the children mostly used cubes they did not always use them systematically or successfully. The effective use of the number line was limited to defining the number sequence. 

Free journal article

Springer has decided to make several articles in Early Childhood Education Journal available for free (till March 31, 2009). One of these articles is a very interesting article about mathematics education: Educating the Young Mathematician: The Twentieth Century and Beyond, by Olivia N. Saracho and Bernard Spodek. Here is the abstract of this article:

Educational programs for young children emerged reasonably early in the history of the United States of America. The movements of Child-Centered Education, the Nursery School, the Project Method, Curriculum Reform, and contemporary research have all influenced mathematics in early childhood education. The Froebelian kindergarten and the Montessori Casa die Bambini (Children’s House) included approaches to teaching mathematics. This article reviews the history of mathematics education in relation to the history of early childhood education from the turn of the twentieth century. It also discusses how research in mathematics education attempted to gain its own identity. Throughout history, researchers have identified mathematics issues and addressed them, defining the field, and generating a cadre of mathematics researchers.