The Guest Room

A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog

EDUcullen: Play-Watch-Read: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Numbers & Counting

If you’re not keeping your child up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to practice counting backward to zero, well, I wish you better luck as Parent of the Year in 2014.

If there is a child in your life that you do care about, here’s my Play-Watch-Read on numbers for them.


Using LEGO to Build Math Concepts | Scholastic

Can math be fun? There are so many “innovative ways” to make mathematics engaging to youth that lessons can lose their relevance to real-world functions.

However, I fully support making math hands-on. And everyone loves their hands on LEGO. So, Scholastic combines math + LEGO to boost your youth’s knowledge of the basics.

scholastic fractions

They host a range of activities on this page but I mostly recommend “Part-Part-Total” (below) for addition and “Tackling Fractions” (above) to learn how parts make up a whole. Why are they engaging? They’re tactile (you can touch) and visual (coloured and easily countable). Scholastic even includes printable templates for recording work. (I must recognize the incredible amount of work from Alycia Zimmerman at this point.)

Oh, and did you know that in some places LEGO is considered a delicacy? It’s true. In children’s playrooms.

scholastic part-part-total


Numbers Nursery | Baby Einstein

I’ve heard people debate whether Baby Einstein videos help kids reach their full potential. I usually end the discussion with, “Did Einstein watch Baby Einstein? Case – closed.”

But when you’re raising an infant or toddler and you need a few minutes to take a shower, or make lunch, or take a shower because your baby knocked your lunch all over your life, what quality program can engage your child while you take care of other business? I recommend Baby Einstein, specifically Numbers Nursery.

Adorable puppets explore numbers with food, flowers, animals, a snowman and also a train that connects the theme. I appreciate Numbers Nursery’s high levels of primary and tertiary colours and its classical music, but mostly I’m grateful for its long, slow, steady shots of moving objects (instead of rapid jump cuts).

Numbers Nursery focuses just on 1 to 5 so it’s best for the very young. I just rewatched some of the episode while writing this and am fondly remembering it aiding Isabelle in acquiring vocabulary and humour. (When the horse eats the flowers and gets hiccups… well, you gotta see it for yourself.)

numbers nursery dvd


Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 | Written by Bill Martin, Jr. & Michael Sampson; Illustrated by Lois Ehlert

This popular sequel to the beloved and entertaining Chicka Chicka Boom Boom replaces tree-climbing letters with tree-climbing numbers. Except for 0. It’s not so welcome at the top of the apple tree – until the bees attack! 0 gets bold and joins 10 at the top to form 100, which scares off the bees and makes 0 the hero. (The finale isn’t as exciting as watching Voltron or Constructicons assemble but it’s certainly more educational.)


Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 subtly reinforces 1-20, every denary number to 100 (30, 40, 50…), and also place value (1, 10, 100). Love the distinctive, child-like artwork, too.

If I had to choose Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or 1, 2, 3 as a purchase, however, I recommend the former for its smooth rhymes and its two levels of emotion – the build-up as the letters climb and then the pain of their bruised letter bodies as each exits after their fall. Whoops. Spoiler alert there.

I also endorse the wonderful Goodnight Moon 1 2 3 by Margaret Wise Brown and the amusing Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman.

numbers books

Well, 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!

If I timed that perfectly, your New Year’s Eve isn’t as exciting as it should be. Better luck next year!

Click on for more articles on education. 

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