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numeral-like - or exploring
the ages of 3 – 4 years some
children begin to represent the
appearance of writing, using
separate graphical signs that seem
to imitate the appearance of
letters or numerals.
Figure 1. Elizabeth was writing
notes in the minibus, explaining
‘It says dear my friend Emma, come
back soon dear Elizabeth.’ She
included the first two letters of
her name, with other signs that
resemble letters, and captured what
she knows of the conventions of
communicating by letter (i.e. ‘Dear
my friend Emma’ and ‘Come back
Figure 2. The early writing of
children whose first language uses a
different alphabet, also shows that
they have captured something of the
appearance of the written letters of
their language (as here, in Arabic)
Ayaan did when writing her name.
begin to explore and think about the
differences between alphanumeric
signs (i.e. letters of the alphabet
and numerals) but this is not at all
straightforward, and sometimes leads
to numerals within written text, or
letters in the place of numerals.
These are not mistakes, but
children working hard to understand
Figure 3 shows Elizabeth’s list
of children in her group who had
arrived that morning. She appears to
have written several letter-like
signs and a numeral ‘3’. There
was no indication that she had
counted three children.
Meaning making in socio-cultural
Explorations with gestures,
words, artefacts, marks, signs
GRAPHICACY: writing and
children’s mathematical graphics
Writing and Mathematics
Gallery 7: The emergence of graphic symbols and
texts in pretend play
8: Children's graphic symbols and texts in
Worthington, M. and Van Oers, B. (2016)
Pretend Play and the cultural foundations of
mathematics. European Early Childhood Education Research
Journal 24 (1). 51-66.
Worthington, M. and Van Oers, B. (2015)
Children’s social literacies: Meaning making and the
emergence of graphical signs and texts in pretence.
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 16(1), 1-29.
Carruthers, E. (2015).
Listening to children's mathematics in school.
In B. Perry., A. Gervasoni and A. MacDonald. Eds.
Mathematics and Transition to School - International
Perspectives. Sydney, Australia: Springer.
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