Biennial EARLI SIG 5 Conference “Learning and Development in Early Childhood” edition:3 location:Jyväskylä, Finland date:25-27 August 2014
This study aimed at analysing young children’s spontaneous number-related utterances during picture book reading, taking into account their SFON, i.e., Spontaneous Focus on Number, competencies. Fifty-five Flemish 4-5-year olds (2nd year of Kindergarten) were individually offered two tasks, namely a SFON task and, two weeks later, a picture book reading task. We used the Elsi Bird Imitation SFON task (Hannula & Lehtinen, 2005), in which children are requested to feed a parrot with differently-coloured berries, ranging in number from 1 to 3. The SFON task consisted of 4 trials, with 2 differently-coloured numerosities per trial. The picture book (“Boer Boris [Boris the farmer]”; van Lieshout & Hopman, 2013) included a story about a farmer and showed, on each page, a visually rich scene with farm-related objects or animals the number of which increased from 1 to 11 from page to page. For each picture, children were invited to first comment spontaneously on the picture (i.e., spontaneous number-related utterances) and next provide additional comments during and after the experimenter had read the text accompanying the picture (e.g., a picture showing 9 mice playing and walking around in the kitchen, accompanied by the text “Farmer Boris has a farm. It also involves 9 mice. Oh no, they do not belong there. They slink secretly in the house!”). We expected differences in both the quantity and the quality of the spontaneous number-related utterances among children with different SFON competencies, with children of higher SFON level providing more and richer number-related utterances than their peers of lower SFON level. We observed large inter-individual differences in both Kindergartners’ SFON and the number and type of their spontaneous number-related utterances during picture book reading. Unexpectedly, we did not find empirical support for the assumed relation between Kindergartners’ SFON and the quantity and quality of their spontaneous number-related utterances. These unexpected results are discussed in terms of their methodological and practical implications.