Book: Teddy Bear Patterns (McGrath Math)
Author: Barbara Barbieri McGrath
Illustrator: Tim Nihoff
Age Range: 3-6
Teddy Bear Patterns is the latest entry in Barbara Barbieri McGrath and Tim Nihoff's McGrath Math series (beginning with Teddy Bear Counting, published in 2010). This series uses brightly-colored teddy bears to illustrate counting and mathematical concepts. In Teddy Bear Patterns, small, shiny bears in the six colors of the rainbow are used to teach children about patterns. McGrath starts out by simply grouping the bears by color, moving from two-color patterns up to repeating lines of all six. The bears are also used to show some simple addition and multiplication, as well as "skip-counting" to show odds and evens. Finally, young readers are asked to identify a few patterns near the end of the book, followed by a brief recap of the book's concepts.
I like the idea behind this book, using something that kids tend to like as a vehicle for learning. One can readily imagine supplementing the book with properly-selected gummy bears (or with these plastic bear-shaped counters), and encouraging kids to dabble in hands-on pattern-making. I found a couple of the examples later in the book to be a bit cryptic, but most of Teddy Bear Patterns is straightforward and educational.
McGrath's rhyming text isn't particularly lyrical, but this may be deliberate. It keeps the reader's attention on the patterns, rather than on word selection. Here are a couple of examples:
"Let's make a pattern
that's totally new.
Place the teddies by color,
arranged two by two."
"Do you see what they see?
If you do please give a nod.
The bottom bears are even;
the top bears are odd."
That second example didn't scan quite right for me, in terms of the prose. But I'm happy to see kids learning about odd and even numbers in a visual way (the bears are in two staggered rows, with odd numbers up top and evens down below, one skip-counts through them).
I actually liked this book enough to go ahead and order Teddy Bear Counting and the Baby Bear Counters that Amazon recommends with the books (not a formal companion item) for my daughter's upcoming third birthday. Recommended for library purchase and for home education for preschooler-age kids.
Publisher: Charlesbridge (@Charlesbridge)
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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