Messy Maths is Published

16 July 2017 · 0 comments

in Book Reviews, Creative STAR Blurb, Early Years Outdoors, Maths Outdoors

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Messy Maths is now out of my head and on paper!

  • If you want a copy asap, then you need to buy directly from Crown House Publishing. You can also get digital copies here. However, it is the sort of book that works better as a paper copy because of all the beautiful photos. These are mainly the work of Jane Hewitt who is a photographer, blogger and author. Her photos make the book, so I am grateful for all her support and enthusiasm for Messy Maths.
  • If you can wait until the end of July, then most UK online book shops will stock it, such as Hive, Waterstones and Amazon.
  • If you live in another country then you will need to wait until the end of August. The Book Depository offers free delivery world-wide and Amazon will probably stock it in most of the countries in which they operate. Angus & Robertson Bookworld are stocking it in Australia too.

To help you decide if the book is worth buying, I hope the following Q&A’s will help…


Can I see a preview before I buy?

Yes – Amazon UK have a “look inside” section. You can see the contents page, read the introduction and part of Chapter 1. At the end you can see lots of the ideas. There’s 316 ideas and many of these have lots of suggestions within them. To give you a flavour, this is Idea 9.7  Shape Shifting:

Finding out how many children can fit onto, inside or around objects lends itself to any outdoor space and any impromptu moment. For example:

  • How many children can stand on a tree stump without falling off?
  • How many children could sit on a picnic rug and still have space to eat their snack?
  • Does the length of a piece of rope affect the numbers of children who can stand inside a shape made by that rope?
  • What is the smallest shape that can be chalked on the ground for two children to stand inside?
  • What is the quickest shape or set of shapes that can be drawn by a class that everyone can stand in? This is an interesting challenge as it is open to interpretation. 


Is it a maths book or an outdoor book?

It’s both. When I started offering outdoor maths training courses back in 2009, I assumed that teachers and practitioners would know the maths and I would enable them to apply their knowledge to an outdoor context. However, I found that many educators lack confidence and have not had much access to maths professional development beyond their original training. So I found myself having to focus on the maths as much as the outdoors. Thus at the start of each chapter there is a brief mathematical overview of what’s involved.

The chapters mainly follow the standard sections for maths work. However after discussions with many early years practitioners about what would be useful, I pulled out some of the material to create additional chapters, specifically on how routines can be a route into maths; looking for the maths in children’s play and considering design features of an outdoor space in terms of the mathematical possibilities.


What’s missing from the book?

Lots! I had to dramatically cut down the original manuscript. Also I wanted a similar style and format to Dirty Teaching. Do not expect planning sheets, audits, assessment tasks or curriculum links.  However, my maths training courses will provide additional material that will continue to save educators lots of time and money, including an audit which is a route map to improving practice. I also may produce some cheap specific resources through Cosy where it makes good sense to do so.


Is the book suitable for primary teachers?

Possibly. Some elements of the book clearly go beyond the expectations of most early years guidance. For example, I reference the use of 1m sticks (not the traditional tool but a pole cut from a hazel tree with no markings). There is a section that focuses on scale, which is normally left until upper primary before introducing. The use of an outdoor environment changes and makes me re-think traditional approaches to the teaching and learning of maths. Many of the ideas are very open-ended and it’s easy to see how to apply the concept to working with older children. However, there are significant gaps, such as work on angles.


Surely all the content is already on your blog?

No. I have referenced some blog posts for a more in-depth explanation of an idea. With both my books, I’ve ensured that they are standalone and much more comprehensive and cohesive.


Is the book self-published?

No. Both Messy Maths and Dirty Teaching are published by Crown House Publishing. This company specialises in education and business books. The team is lovely and my thanks go to Rosalie, David, Tom and Tabitha for all their hard work and involvement in the process. Emma Tuck is the copy editor. She is an artist too so check out her work here.


Finally many thanks also go to the schools and educators who helped out with photos, quotes, advice and constructive feedback. A book of this sort can only grow and emerge through conversations and collaborations.

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