Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
After months of lock-down and home schooling I think it’s fair to say that education is at the forefront of most parents minds. I am very much the type of parent who likes to buy maths, grammar, comprehension… pretty any books to support my children at home and supplement their learning.
However buying online is always a gamble, and the books I usually buy tend to require the child to write and complete activities using a pencil. This can be tricky if your child isn’t quite at that stage yet, or struggles to engage in that way.
When I had the opportunity to review The 10Tickers book series I jumped at it, as it is so different than anything I’ve seen before. They aim to teach numbers 0-10 to children who are aged between 3 and 5 based on reading books; it means that you can start your child’s learning before they are able to write. My children love to read so this method is a big tick for us, as it’s more about fun than formal learning. On a personal note, the local library being closed has been frustrating so it’s amazing to have new books to read!
My children are aged 8, 5 and 2. My 5 year old does know his numbers well but I felt that these books would be good revision for him and a great reading opportunity. As for my 2 year old, we have already started to introduce him to counting as he has a late June birthday so I am conscious that he may be a little behind at school. These books arrived at the perfect time for me.
I was delighted to receive all 11 books (there is a book for zero), tied together with a cute blue ribbon. The books are a glossy white paperback, each with a different coloured Ticker character on the front. For example Ticker 1 is red with a cute hair slide in her hair and one red circular button on her tummy. Ticker 2 is blue and he has two square buttons. Ticker 3 is yellow and has a cute ponytail with three triangular buttons on her tummy… and so on. The books are aimed at boys and girls, and there’s bound to be one book with your child’s favourite coloured Ticker character. You can purchase the books individually but I would recommend buying the whole series to really reap the benefits as they progress in sequence.
Each book has a special edition bookmark inside introducing you to the characters name, colour and number of buttons.
The idea of the books is to use stories to deliver the key early years concepts of numeracy, phonics, colour and literacy. The work is a collaboration of authors with over 100 years combined educational experience (Head Teacher, Ofsted Inspector and university and PGCE lecturer) so you can be assured that there is a strong academic basis behind these stories.
The stories follow the Ticker characters thoughts and adventures, and each book features a song to sing with your child (often relating to number). Each story is 20 pages long, so you can really spend a long time reading and exploring the story and interactive tasks on each page. For example when the character talks about having one nose and one mouth it prompts a conversation with your child to point to your body parts and count.
Many early years concepts are introduced in the books, such as position and size (top, bottom, big and so on). Had I not just spent several months home schooling a 5 year old I may not have spotted these, but I can see how the authors really try to cover a broad range of the curriculum in the form of engaging stories that progress in sequence as you count from Ticker 1 to 10. So after Ticker 1 is introduced in book 1, she appears in book 2 where we are introduced to Ticker 2 and so on; by book 10 all of the Ticker characters 1-10 are involved in the story.
As the books progress more difficult concepts are brought in; from daily routines to colours, shapes, even addition and subtraction. The beauty of the books is that they can grow with your child. My two year old is just starting to count in sequence (he’s at the very early stages), so I will simply read the stories and count wherever an opportunity arises in the story to embed that idea. By the time he is 3, I would expect him to be able to find the 2 red flowers and perhaps recognise shapes a little later, then move onto the addition and subtraction as he enters reception class. There are practical task suggestions in the books to help support your child’s learning, such as measuring tasks.
My 5 year old was very enthusiastic about the books and characters and really enjoyed reading them. He is at the top age range for these books so he was able to read them well and the tasks were fun, and useful revision for him. I can see how these books will be invaluable in supporting my youngest boy.
Initially I read through all of the books with the children in one sitting (for the purpose of the review), rather than the suggested spending time on one book per session. Each time we moved onto the next Ticker the children were so excited so see the character and my two year old cheered!
I especially liked the idea of measurement that was featured in Ticker 8 as he made a birthday cake, and this concept was built upon further in Ticker 9 with using a cut-out of your hand to measure length, and the idea of measuring liquid in jugs. As the books progress in number, so does the difficulty of the ideas being introduced. For my 5 year old, the later books were a good revision tool for some of his reception level work. There is so much opportunity for counting and understanding numbers throughout which is key in early years.
Ticker 10 touched upon the idea of number bonds by demonstrating that 5 and 5 equal 10, but didn’t go any deeper than that (2 and 8, for example). This would perhaps be tricky to incorporate into a story in a fun way, and you cannot possibly cover the entire curriculum in 11 books. However the fact that this was introduced allows you as a parent to start that conversation and look at how 10 can be broken down, and this is what I loved about the books; so many ideas are covered and this allows you to delve deeper when your child is ready and build your own activities around the books, as well as those which are suggested.
Looking at the way that the buttons are arranged on the Ticker tummies also lends itself to a conversation about odd and even numbers, although this isn’t covered by the books. After all this home schooling I am an expert on the early years curriculum!
I loved the special edition bookmark idea as it is a quick way to test your child’s colour recognition, counting (of buttons) or even their ability to read the named and numeral form of the numbers. Think of them as flash cards or a game of “find me the yellow Ticker”.
At the back of each book are further flashcards that can be cut out for each number (numeral and named) with a second flashcard with the buttons drawn on for each Ticker, allowing you to start a “how many buttons am I holding up” game.
Support sites are available to help parents get the most from these books (www.10tickers.com/howto) and as a bonus feature there are hidden QR codes in the books which lead to online games and activities. I am told that they are currently working with the University of Salford to extend the activity range through these codes.
However based on my experiences, these codes were fantastic and added yet another dimension to these stories on which to build as your child progresses. Each book had a code linking to worksheets that you could print at home relating to the Ticker number; tracing the number, drawing for example 8 spots and even “find the way out of the maze” activities. Other codes are linked to tasks to complete on your tablet or phone, similar to the white board activities in school. For example moving 10 apples from the tree and into the basket with your finger, tracing over the number with your finger and even matching the correctly coloured paintbrush to the colour written on a white balloon.
I cannot describe how cute these books are, and what a truly original idea it is. There is a real attention to detail with the content and characters; Tickers have their button number on their tummy as well as their numeral on their back. You can use these books in so many different ways each time you read through, as your child develops and depending on what your child likes to do and how they learn best; whether that’s reading, playing games with you, completing the writing tasks associated or even the tablet based activities. Or all of the above!
Whilst the full package price of £59.90 might seem like a big outlay you have to bear in mind that you are getting 11 quality books and the associated flash-cards, the bookmarks, coverage of many areas in the early years curriculum plus access to the games and activities using the QR codes. I think it’s good value and money well spent. It is a high quality educational support tool and I only wish I’d had these when my 8 year old was a toddler. I am certainly going to be telling my friends about this, especially given the current climate with many children having missed at least some of their early years education in nursery or school. I have to add that from a personal point of view I am so grateful to have these books to support my summer-born baby.
I would award these books 5/5 without question.
RRP: £6.99 per book or £59.90 for the set of 11 books (0-10).
You can purchase this product from the 10Tickers website here