CMNetwork E-bulletin: October 2008

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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>> The Williams Maths Review (DCSF: 2008): 'Mathematical Mark-making’ - find out more >>

Graphic of the month

Barney – subtracting beans

This was the first occasion that Barney had used paper to help his thinking about subtraction.

Early in the term at the beginning of Y1, Barney’s teacher introduced a game with flowerpots and beans. The children played in pairs, one child counting (out loud) a small handful of beans before adding them to a pot. The other child then removed several beans (without counting) and hid them. Together the children worked out how many had been subtracted by checking how many remained.

Barney first wrote ’10 take 1 is 9’ at the top and then represented the flowerpots with the beans inside, using an arc of arrows to represent the physical action of ‘taking away’. This was the first instance we have of this personal, invented sign for subtraction. During the same lesson, Barney then moved to a more efficient form by omitting the drawings of flowerpots and beans. Finally he explored another child’s idea of representing a hand with a numeral on it, to signify the quantity that he had removed (not shown here).

Early operations: the development of children’s own written methods

  • Separating sets
  • Exploring symbols

Barney also explored ‘narrative action’ and ‘code switches’ in this example

See: taxonomy of development

Link to Graphics of Past Months

Welcome to new members:

Welcome to our first Canadian member: Kathleen Weisner from School District 64 Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island BC. Also welcome to Sheldon Phillips from Rhyl Primary School, London and from Cheddar in the South West of England, welcome to Kokila Lane.


New! DCSF, (2008) 'Mark Making Matters' , London: DCSF
This publication includes a short section on children's mathematical graphics. It also includes lovely examples of children's drawings and early writing, many of which are from Redcliffe Children's Centre, Bristol. Headteacher Elizabeth Carruthers would especially like to thank Carole Keane, Louise White, Sue Cook, Hugo Turvey and Jeanette Hill for their excellent contributions.

The Standards Site (DCSF):
Mark Making Matters

'An analysis of recent Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) results reveals that while children are generally making good progress across the 13 scales of learning and development, achievements are consistently lower in the scales of Writing (particularly for boys), and Calculation. This could undermine their future progress, particularly in the transition from the EYFS to Key Stage 1.

The booklet also explores how an improved understanding of the importance of mark making can strengthen provision for CLL and PSRN. It will illustrate how children's confidence in themselves as writers and as mathematical thinkers, can be promoted through the introduction of children’s mathematical graphics.

Children learn from everything they do, but their development depends, in part, on the quality and range of experiences they have received both in the environment of their setting and at home. Some children have had opportunities to experiment with mark making from their earliest years, while others have had limited experiences for a variety of reasons.' (DCSF. October, 2008).

New! Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2008) 'Children's mathematical graphics: young children calculating for meaning' in I. Thompson, (Ed.) (2008) Teaching and Learning Early Number, Maidenhead: Open University Press, (2nd ed.).


For 2008 - 2009

Recent reports

New! Ofsted EY Report (Sept. 2008) ‘Leading to Excellence’

New! Ofsted Mathematics Report: (Sept. 2008): ‘Mathematics: Understanding the Score’

New! Summary of Key points and Recommendations relating to the Foundation Stage: Ofsted (Sept. 2008)

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  • We welcome new members – wherever you are! Perhaps you will become the first member in your part of the UK – or the first member from your country?
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September 2008

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