I am delighted to be producing JoJo Gnome’s STEAM maths story resources for families and children in 2022. This was something I couldn’t have imagined doing at one time. I was never very good at maths at school. I was always better at writing stories and doing art. It didn’t help that my memories of numbers are focused on a primary school experience where we all had to stand up every morning and had a times table sum fired at you. If you got it right you sat down. If you were not great at ‘mental arithmetic’, like me, you were left standing for quite a while. So panic, embarrassment and numbers all seemed to be tied up with each other. Numbers were no friend to me.
Luckily in schools now, maths and numbers aren’t taught like that. When working for the BBC doing research in a primary school on whiteboards, one class had me join in their maths quiz. I was terrified but calmed down when I saw how engaged with maths they were, not only was there no panic there was excitement and enthusiasm. The children were supported by a teacher who gave them the confidence to guesstimate, confer with each other (in my day that was cheating) and even get the answer wrong with no shame attached, then go on to explore how they could get the right answer. That’s the way learning should be and I wished I had experienced that when I was much younger.
So, knowing my maths background, if you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be about to start a STEAM (Science/ Technology/Engineering /Arts & Maths) story project with the main theme being around maths and numbers I wouldn’t have believed you. It was an unexpected conversation in 2021,with a couple of passionate maths education professionals that got me thinking about what, as a storyteller, I could do to engage early years children with maths. Also to start thinking about the way that numbers and maths stories could be used as a starting point to facilitate creative experiences and learning journeys for children and families.
So I pitched the idea of JoJo Gnome’s STEAM Story Workshop to Creative Scotland and I was delighted to get funding from them to make this creative project happen. In 2022 I will be facilitating 12 early years creative story workshops across Scotland encouraging early years pupils to create their own number stories. I will also be making the main JoJo Gnome story, used in the workshop, available to families and schools as a video (free through the JoJo Gnome website and YouTube channel). The story will be available in BSL and Makaton versions too.
In the workshops the children will be working with me to create their own short number stories based around counting. We will be using the children’s drawings and voices to help tell those stories. Their films will be able to be watched at home, in nurseries and schools to stimulate ideas for others to make up their own ‘new’ stories.
An especially exciting aspect of this project is that in conjunction with Hamilton School For the Deaf, we will be creating a new character that will appear in the JoJo Gnome Story Podcast. The only thing I know about this character at the moment is that they will have hearing challenges. The first workshop happens next week and I’ll let you know how that goes and introduce you to the new character. I’ll also let you know if that character likes maths and numbers!
So 2022 looks like an exciting, creative and number filled year. I look forward to taking you on that journey with me and sharing the exciting content and discoveries we make along the way.
Meanwhile catch up with the most recent JoJo Gnome Story Podcast all about food.