Mathematical learning through manipulation, this is the recreaMATHS project   

Photo credit : Fermat Science 

According to the Larousse dictionary (2021), “manipulation is the act of holding an object in one’s hands while using it in any way”. Learning is the process by which a person acquires knowledge, masters skills, or develops competencies.  

Thus, learning by manipulating helps to promote memorization through touch and facilitates the transition from the concrete to the abstract. 

This is the main objective of the recreaMATHS project, developed by 5 European structures all specialized in the field of non-formal education : Les Apprimeurs of Paris (France), L’Istituto dei Sordi of Turin (Italy), Citizens In Power of Nicosia (Cyprus), LogoPsyCom of Mons (Belgium) and Fermat Science of Beaumont-de-Lomagne (France). 

The recreaMATHS project 

The recreaMATHS project is aimed at children from 4 to 7 years old, their teachers, supervisors, animators and parents. We are aware that manipulation is a central element of kindergarten and we have given ourselves the mission to develop innovative tools in the field of mathematics. All the resources are available free of charge on the website, 

Photo credit : Citizens In Power 

The recreaMATHS e-books 

A mini collection of electronic books allows to learn through stories.  

Even dematerialized books are a source of imagination and escape. Here is the way that was chosen to promote the learning of mathematical concepts through characters who live adventures. The child is automatically involved in the story to help his virtual comrades to solve more or less complex problems. 

The benefits are real. The book is a sensory stimulus, because listening to a story is not only a question of hearing, but also the stimulation of several senses.  

The stories and drawings help to boost curiosity by asking questions and wondering about the meaning of words and associated images.  

The adventures that the characters go through help to improve and diversify vocabulary and promote the acquisition and mastery of language.  

The adaptation of books for children allows them to identify themselves and at the same time to realize that our emotions are the same as those conveyed by the characters (joy, sadness, anger, wonder, questioning, etc.).  

Finally, the stories allow the introduction of various notions and consolidate learning through a non-formal method, especially in mathematics 

Photo credit : Fermat Science 
Photo credit : Fermat Science

The recreaMATHS workshops 

Photo credit : Fermat Science 

A variety of manipulative workshops are also available. The objective is to become familiar with different mathematical concepts, through gestures, moving objects, thinking, interacting with peers and using strategies to solve problems.  

The recognition of numbers, the numerical sequence, geometric shapes, the faces of solids, the initiation to addition, subtraction, multiplication, geometry in space, are some of the areas covered in this project. Each workshop is accompanied by a student sheet and a teacher sheet. The material, easy to obtain and to appropriate, is entirely designed to be made with a 3D printer. The printing files can be downloaded for free. This project can be integrated into classes, clubs or even at home. 

Photo credit : Fermat Science
Photo credit : Fermat Science

Based on the different types of memorization, recreaMATHS prioritizes the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, i.e. the one that allows to manipulate before moving on to more abstract notions. Indeed, manipulation alone is not enough to acquire the understanding of a concept or a notion, but using it as an introduction, a discovery, allows to get familiar with the notion to understand it. It is then that this notion can become abstract and determine its generality. The manipulation carried out with intention, is a step of experimentation, i.e. to try, to verbalize. Thanks to the material made available, the child can reach the set objective. This material allows him to make a problem concrete, and it is at this point that the concept in its entirety can be explained and thus understood. 

Photo credit : Fermat Science

Each partner organized in its city, its country, test days with students, under the watchful eye of their teachers. We thank the involvement of these teachers to our project, but also to the children who allowed each partner to observe the tools in real situation. 

In addition to the fact that this project is ready to be implemented in the classroom or at home, we have also trained, within the framework of the recreaMATHS project, a group of teachers, supervisors and national education inspectors from each of the partner countries, in 3D modeling. This training allowed them to get familiar with new innovative tools and to consider equipping their school with a Fab Lab. 

This project is a springboard for teachers, it allows them to acquire the basics of using new technologies in order to be autonomous in the creation of mediation and manipulation tools. Children can also take part in this adventure with an approach to 3D modeling. What could be better than creating your own object from your imagination? All this is now possible with recreaMATHS! 

Photo credit : Fermat Science