Number Friends Books
I’m a Mum, Wife, and Early Years teacher. During my teacher training and early career, I learnt how to teach phonics and could never understand why there wasn’t a similar approach for early maths. I decided to see if I could make a resource to help teach number formation and, what started out as a few doodles in my sketch pad, has now become three actual books!
One of my own children struggled during their time in reception and year one and was later diagnosed as having dyslexia. As I read up and found out more about it, a lot of the traits resonated with me too. What struck me about my experience, is the fact that dyslexia or dyscalculia (or any unmet learning need for that matter) will be having an impact on a child’s learning and it may not be picked up for years. To me, it feels unfair that children may be being left behind with their learning through no fault of their own, especially as assessments for dyslexia and dyscalculia are often paid for privately and therefore aren’t always accessible.
I’m passionate that teaching should be done in a way that all children can access. I wanted my books to appeal to a range of learning styles, to include colourful engaging illustrations, funny characters and also lend themselves to a day of singing nursery rhymes or den building. I absolutely love the cross curricular approach to learning in the Early Years and I hope that this is shown, particularly in my first book ‘Number Friends: let’s write numbers’.
I designed my books to encompass a range of learning styles and help children learn, regardless of whether they are neurotypical or not, or have a diagnosis of an additional learning need or not.
I wanted all my books to be easy to use, both by teachers and parents and hope you enjoy them…
Number Friends: let’s write numbers
During my time teaching, I noticed that there are countless resources for teaching children to write and form letters, but there are not many (if any) similar resources for teaching the formation of numbers. I started thinking about how to fill this gap and decided to play around with the idea of teaching early maths concepts through a fun story.
I came up with the concept of having a different character for each number; ones that may already be familiar to young children from nursery rhymes and songs. This idea quickly snowballed, and I ended up with each number having its own character, colour, story, and memorable rhyme to help recall the digit formation.
I wanted to have ‘things to spot’ in the illustration for each number, to help build up the child’s understanding of each number having a value. So, for the three little pigs, there are three clouds to spot, three apples on a tree, three bees near the honey pot etc. I also wanted the character representing each number to be able to feature in future books and perhaps explore that number in more detail.
Because the Early Years framework is so cross curricular and play based, I wanted to bring in lots of ideas which linked to other areas of learning; so, looking at the three little pigs again, children could build dens or maybe make some honey on toast and talk about instructions and the importance of ordering and sequencing.
I tried to tie in many areas of the Early Years curriculum, such as colours, prepositions, day and night, animals, exploring different materials, healthy eating, music, and activities to help develop gross motor and fine motor skills….it was a lot to organise and fit into ten short stories!
Number Friends and the Doubling Doorway
This book looks at doubling, another early maths concept. Because the number two is represented by the two mice ‘Tommy and Tilly’ in the original book, I wanted to make them the “hosts” of this book.
The idea behind this book is that Tommy and Tilly host a pirate party for the Number Friends and discover an old shipwreck, within which they find a ‘doubling doorway’. All the Number Friends take it in turn to go through the magical doorway and get doubled.
I included instructions for how to make a ‘doubling doorway’ at the end of the book; it’s a suggestion to decorate a mirror and then put objects by it to see them doubled.
Simple, but very effective for visual and tactile learners!
Number Friends and the Number Bond Sports Day
This book looks at ‘number bonds’ to ten, so is hosted by The Grand Old Duke, who represents the number ten. I designed a sports day themed story and each team of friends just so happens to be a number bond (so 3 and 7, or 4 and 6).
With this book, I wanted to bring in subtle social stories about teamwork, friendship, and inclusivity. For example, the mice are unable to swim so make a paper boat for the swimming race instead of being left out. Each character is awarded a balloon by the Duke, and I designed this illustration to mimic the ‘part-whole model’ often used in schools when learning about number bonds….
I created ‘Billy Bees Learning’ as a brand to keep the Number Friend books under, and possibly other learning resources and support in the future. I have a website – billybeeslearning.co.uk – and social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram (search “Billy Bees Learning”) …so please give me a follow and share any tips or home learning with me!
My books are available for sale here…