Magnitude awareness is instinctive, a skill which can be developed before any formal maths learning. So it is pre-maths, but is it also pre-language? How might you work on magnitude skills with a child who has not yet developed language skills, and cannot simply be asked to ‘choose more’?
This is a question which arose in one of our sessions, with gorgeous two year old Santiago. His father Peter told us that Santi would not understand a verbal prompt to ‘choose more’ between different groups of dots, but was very good at voluntarily distinguishing between different portions of chocolate!
Perhaps we need next to develop a game for younger children, which is crammed with objects of desire, and where your motivation to amass more and more and more is itself instinctive!
Speaking about this with Peter reminded me of ideas Will and I discussed in the very early stages of Millie Moreorless - ideas which may now be relevant again as we develop plans for follow up games which will lead players towards real world applications of the magnitude skills honed in Millie Moreorless. We think there is a very funny, social game to be made using cupcakes, kittens, frogs, trophies, custard pies... and alternatively a very beautiful, enchanting game to be made using colour, light, and music. Stay tuned for more on these!
Peter also made the very interesting suggestion that our dots could be assigned different values - where the circles are varying sizes for example, with each size representing a different worth. Why is this important? Well, valuing them would be very similar to scanning a handful of coins, and assessing instinctively whether you have received the right amount of change… A very relevant, real world skill for those who struggle with using money.
Plenty of food for thought!