© Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

Carruthers, E. & Worthington, M. (2006) Children’s Mathematics: Making Marks, Making Meaning. London: Sage. 2nd Edition.

This publication is used as a key text in many university courses on early years mathematics education, and on courses on symbolic representation relating to literacy and numeracy.


Foreword for First edition: Worthington, M. and Carruthers, E. (2003) Children’s Mathematics: Making Marks, Making Meaning. London: Paul Chapman.

This is a very important book not least because of its range. The authors have gathered evidence from children over a 15-year period. They analysed almost 700 samples of children's graphics showing how powerful patterns of cognition (schemas) in the early years of development gradually evolve into recognisable forms of writing and mathematics. Their aim, and unique achievement, has been to chart the progress of children's thinking through their mark-making from birth to 8. They have bridged the gap between Early Years and primary education. Chris Athey

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Foreword for second edition: Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2006) Children’s Mathematics: Making Marks, Making Meaning. London: Sage Publications.

This is one of the most important books on emergent mathematical thought in infancy and early childhood ever written. Those of us who have devoted our lifetimes attempting to understand the origin and development of expressive, representational and symbolic thought in infancy and childhood, and how best to support it, quickly came to realise that the beginnings of linguistic and mathematical thought are embedded in rather commonplace actions and drawings made by the infant and young child. Tragically, these crucial beginnings of expressive, representational and symbolic thought are often discounted completely and receive little or no support from the pedagogical environment. John Matthews

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One of several reviews of this book:

Once in a while, a very long while, there emerges a book about the education of young children, which has the power to transform how teachers teach. Children’s Mathematics: Making Marks, Making Meaning is such a book and it comes not a moment too soon. For far too long educators have seriously under-estimated the challenge posed to young children by symbol systems. At long last this void in research has been addressed and this book provides practitioners with the wherewithal to nurture young children’s introduction to mathematics and ease the transition from informal to formal mathematics in a way that is consistent with how they learn. Branwen Llewelyn Jones

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Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2011) Understanding Children's Mathematical Graphics: Beginnings in Play. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
The authors make it clear that ‘graphics’ is so much more than merely an ‘outcome’. Graphics in mathematical experiences are part of the processes of maths learning and the whole problem-generating and problem-solving ethos that we try, as educators, to develop in, and for, our learners. Those playful mathematical experiences and challenges which are initiated by the child are likely to be richer and more motivating as well as being a stimulus for children’s sense of self-worth, self-confidence and competence. They are also more likely to ensure that the children’s voices are clearly heard amongst the (necessary but sometimes overwhelming) bureaucracy and direction which seem to permeate curriculum and assessment in England especially.
Janet Moyles Foreword:

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Professional development pack: Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2011) Developing Children's Mathematical Graphics: Supporting Early Mathematical Thinking. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

John Matthews


Chris Athey
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