Martinsburg Journal: “Counting on Fun”

December 10, 2011: Animated personalities help bring numbers to life for students

“One method of getting Berkeley Heights Elementary kindergarten students excited about numbers and math: animated numbers with friendly personalities and bright colors.

Guest speaker Rebecca Klemm, author of the brand NumbersAlive!, introduced the students to a special group of numbers, Team Ten. Team Ten are the animated numbers zero through nine and the main characters of Klemm’s book aimed at attracting young children to math.

“The idea is that numbers should not be mysterious but fun and friendly and useful,” said Klemm. “We’re trying to make numbers come alive.”

Team Ten interacted with the students as plush toys and puppets. Klemm also engaged the students through a music video and song explaining numbers and the number characters in her book.

According to Maral Strathearn, the English as a second language teacher at Berkeley Height Elementary, before the program ended, the students chose their favorite number character. It was, Strathearn said, the highlight of the program.

When designing the characters, Klemm said each number of Team Ten is meant to be personable but also educational.

“Their personalities are based on how numbers have been used in culture and history, such as the ‘2’ is empathy because two is love,” said Klemm. “‘Threee’ will be the architect so he has triangular eyes because three or the triangle is the most basic historic shape for architecture.

Klemm became a guest speaker through a correspondence with Strathearn. Strathearn believed Klemm’s book “NumbersAlive! Books for Young Travelers: Washington, D.C.” would be a good mathematical learning tool while also teaching about American culture.

“I like it because it’s very interactive, lively and has to deal with America at large …Washington (D.C.). It’s a learning system, and the numbers are cute and the questions are interesting,” said Strathearn.

Klemm said the goal of her program is to help students become “life allies” with mathematics. She designed the number characters to be accessible for young students, who are just starting to learn their numbers, as well as for older students. ”

Story by Samantha Cronk from the Martinsburg Journal