A Mathematical Gem
I’m always on the hunt for a great book with endless opportunities for developing early numeracy skills. Splash, by Ann Jonas is one of those gems! The bold illustrations are inviting and the different animals jumping in and out of the pond, beg to be counted!
A Brief Summary
The book is told from the perspective of a little girl who describes the shenanigans going on in her backyard pond. She’s there to feed her fish, but while doing so, finds all of her animal friends jumping and falling in and out of her pond. Dogs, cats, frogs, fish, and turtles, all make an appearance. The text describes the animals coming and going, and at the bottom of each page, the reader is asked, “How many are in my pond?”. The illustrations are wonderfully vibrant and easy for young children to count and analyze.
Counting is the most obvious application, as the reader is asked to count at the bottom of each page. What child wouldn’t want to figure out how many animals are in the pond now?! This book lends itself well for a week long focus. Begin with the counting activity, it’s a great way to get familiar with the story!
When I look at the pages of this story, I immediately think, “Some animals in the pond. Some animals out of the pond. How many animals all together?”. For me, each spread is a wonderful opportunity for discovering addition number stories. You might approach these number stories as a group or have children discuss them in pairs. They’re also wonderful for recording equations, if your children are at that stage.
Open Ended Addition Stories
By now, you’ve counted and recorded/discussed addition number stories based on the illustrations. Now what? Here’s where I’d go next: “I saw 10 animals. Some were in the pond. Some were out of the pond. What could I have seen?” This allows children to create their own number stories based on the animals from the book. Ask children to create illustrations which reflect the number stories they’ve come up with. One child might draw a cat and a dog out of the pond and five turtles and three fish in the pond (2+8=10 or 1+1+5+3=10), whereas another student might draw three turtles out of the pond and six fish and a dog in the pond (3+7=10 or 3+6+1=10). These open ended addition stories allow for much more freedom and creativity!
Open Ended Multiplication (Or Larger Addition)
If you want to take it a step further, think about legs on animals. For example: I saw 24 legs. Some were in the water. Some were out of the water. What could I have seen? In this case children will have to count and calculate carefully. Perhaps a dog and a cat out of the water (1×4) + (1×4), and four turtles in the water (4×4). The final equation: 8+16=24. Although this is not usually appropriate for younger children, I have had a handful of kindergarteners each year who love this type of challenge! Again, asking children to add illustrations to their multiplication/addition number stories is always a good idea!
Whenever children are solving or creating mathematical problems, always ask them to show their thinking in three ways: pictures, numbers, and words (Younger children might label their work with beginning sounds or have an adult scribe for them.) In addition, ask your child to keep their work neat and organized. This is important, so that they can easily understand their own thinking and share their work with friends.