© 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.


Forward for First edition (2003) of Children’ s Mathematics: Making Marks, Making Meaning (updated for Second Edition, 2006)

Chris Athey

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.

When seen across such an age range, the children's explanations of the meanings of their own marks represent an exciting intellectual journey through childhood which will provide new insights for parents and professionals into the developing relationship between language and thought. The representations show a gradual emergence of more complex relationships between mathematical language and mathematical thought…

There is nothing sentimental about the child-centred orientation of the attitude held and evidence gathered by these two authors. They are tough teachers making a case for improving children's thinking, and mathematical thinking in particular. Their central thesis is that the gap in children's mathematical understanding is bridged through supporting the development of children's own mathematical graphics. At present there is a wide, conceptually dangerous gap between adult understanding of the thinking of young children and the later, more adult, thinking of primary stage children.

For full Foreword, please click here.

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

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

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