Let’s visit Numberland means evidence based foundational numeracy and literacy

Let’s visit Numberland is research based early maths. It started as a research project in Germany from 2003 to 2005, carried out by pedagogue Dr. Gerhard Friedrich and school psychologist Horst Munz.

The objective was to find out whether combining findings from brain research, developmental psychology, elementary pedagogics, and maths into an emotional and imaginative, open and playful concept had significant effects on learning. 

And it had: Within only ten weeks children aged 3 to 6 gained the mathematical competence and understanding they would have normally achieved only within one year. The same was true for language skills and for under-privileged children with partly very poor understanding of the German language. 

The findings were published in a peer reviewed journal.

The University of Heidelberg confirmed the findings in a second study from 2005 to 2009. 

Major findings

  • Within ten weeks only, the Numberland children gained the mathematical competence and understanding they normally would have achieved within one year; the control group more or less remained the same. 
  • The same was true for the linguistic competence, both passive and active, of the children. 
  • The socio-economic background of the children was irrelevant for the gain of competence. 
  • Both sexes benefit, the girls even a little bit more than the boys. 
  • The age specific results show a striking development of the children regarding both math and language skills: Naturally the younger children had a much lower base level than the older (red dots). Yet the tasks were all taken from tests evaluating whether or not a child aged 5+ may enter school. So obviously the older children achieved much higher scores (green triangles). But after only 10 weeks of Numberland the under 4 year old children scored on average higher than the base level of the one year older! The same was true for the development of the 4 to 5 year olds compared to the base level of the over 5 year olds who again made significant progress. 
  • The teachers felt motivated and competent to creatively apply Numberland.
  • The second study by Sabina Pauen with a similar test design included 4 to 5 year olds and confirmed the positive effects of “Let’s visit Numberland”.
  • It additionally pointed out that the concept increased the confidence of the staff in teaching math and that they felt very comfortable with the concept.
  • The teachers also acknowledged the positive overall impact on the children.

Description of the Numberland research project

During 10 weeks 46 children aged 3 to 5+ traveled to Numberland once a week. Each week they visited one number for approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Whenever suitable, the respective number of the week was picked up during the daily routine (circle time, creative play, sports, meals etc.). The children had access to the material for free play. In parallel, a control group of 46 comparable children carried on with their normal routine and had no access to Numberland. In a second run, this setting was repeated with underprivileged children, many of them having severe language problems and lacking other skills. The charts depict the results of that second run.

Project and control groups were tested before and after the 10 weeks in which the project took place. The tests comprised tasks such as conceiving and building sets of numbers, colors and shapes, remembering numbers, cognition of details, general reasoning powers. Regarding active and passive language skills, the children made a story out of some pictures, were asked what they remembered from a story that had been read out to them, and they had to carry out tasks of differing complexity. The effects of ‘Let’s visit Numberland’ both on math relevant thinking and on language have been tested twice with significant results.

Publications

Gerhard Friedrich, Horst Munz (2006)
Förderung schulischer Vorläuferfähigkeiten durch das didaktische Konzept “Komm mit ins Zahlenland”
In: Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht, Vol. 53, S. 134-146. München und Basel: Ernst-Reinhardt-Verlag. 

Interested in a free electronic English translation? Just send an email.

Sabina Pauen, Viktoria Herber (Hrsg.) 
Offensive Bildung: Vom Kleinsein zum Einstein.

Cornelsen Verlag Scriptor 2009.