CMNetwork E-bulletin: April/May 2016

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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Children’s graphics: David and Isaac in the Nursery

CONTEXT: small group at ‘quiet time’, exploring the bathroom scales.

The children contextualise their mathematical graphics as they draw on their existing knowledge. For example David stood on the bathroom scales, and looking at its numbers said, ‘I’m 15, so I need to write it down’ and made some letter- and numeral-like signs on the whiteboard.

Using his understanding of a variety of measuring units, Isaac made rapid scribble-marks on paper saying, ‘David weighs 700 kilos, he’s 60 metres heavy’ (opposite).

The children appeared to sometimes use scribble-marks as ‘placeholders’ to denote specific meanings [notable within their pretend play], ‘suggesting that such rapidly made marks allow the course of play to proceed uninterrupted’ (Worthington and van Oers 2016b). * Children may also use scribble-marks to signify writing, an alternative to wavy or zigzag lines.


  • Early explanations with marks: attaching mathematical meanings.

* See below for reference.

Gallery 7: The emergence of graphic symbols and texts in pretend play
Gallery 8: Children's graphic symbols and texts in self-initiated contexts.


Publications - New in 2016:

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.

Courses and Conferences

Courses and Conferences: 2015-2016

Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC): MA in Education (Early Years): Leading Early Years Maths

National Education News

BBC Education News
Guardian Education News
Independent Education News
Times Education Supplement (TES)


February/March 2016

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