Gill Shearsby-Fox is a Primary Mathematics Adviser for Herts for Learning

Charlie and LolaOne Thing featuring Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child (published by Orchard ISBN 978-1-40833-900-8).

One Thing, is the latest book, from the well know author and illustrator Lauren Child. It features her well know characters Charlie and his little sister Lola who ‘is small and very funny’. As in many other Charlie and Lola books the everyday is made interesting and exciting. In this story, during a simple trip to the shop, Lauren Child cleverly and playfully introduces children to the maths in all aspects of everyday life – from sharing to how many seconds in a minute; to the idea of cardinality in counting to adding and subtracting strings of numbers.

The aims of the National curriculum states that maths ‘provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.’ This book highlights the role of mathematics in everyday life, the creativity within the subject and explains why maths helps us to develop the life skills such as: managing out time, negotiating and the importance of asking questions about the world around us.

In an interview Lauren Child admitted that maths was not something she enjoyed at school but through creating her illustrations she has grown to appreciate it, “I’ve realised maths, numbers and numeracy come in all different packages,” she explained. “There’s maths in art, in music and in patterns and once you realise that, it so easy.” Maths is fundamentally about spotting patterns, ensuring that children have opportunity to do this through observation and then representation their thinking pictorially will help them to also realise that maths comes in different packages. The balance of pictorial representation, linked to real life situations and the introduction of abstract representations is one of this book’s biggest strengths.

One Thing could be used as a spring board to many areas of learning in maths. If you would like to find out how to use this story or many other children’s books in maths lessons attend ‘Making maths meaningful: using children’s books to enhance teaching and learning in mathematics’ on 28th June.