The missing piece

puzzle_kittyArithmetic Village was recently shortlisted by a large publisher for the third time. The books were rejected, but they offered some valuable feedback from their education manager. Here it is:

From a teacher perspective, arithmetic is not a word commonly used any more – most teachers/educators use the words ‘Number Operations’.

It was good to see a first reaction from another educator, but II did think long and hard about the name. I know that “Arithmetic” is old-fashioned, but so are the names Olivia and Charlotte. That’s the charming kind of look and feel I seek. I was looking for something more romantic. Math and romance? Sure why not? My desire is to offer something different.

The images and design of the books feels more early childhood/lower primary, whereas the concepts of the text are more middle primary.

I know this is true. The illustrations are intentionally simple to ensure they do not intimidate the learner. I want children to feel at ease and maybe the simplicity will give them a bit more confidence with the concepts.  Of course there is also the detail that I illustrated the books and am not an artist. 🙂 

I always worry a little when I read AV for the first time with a group of children, but so far, after five years of workshops, not one child has mentioned that the illustrations were babyish – maybe I only teach very polite children. If the simple images have dissuaded your child from interacting with Arithmetic Village, please do let me know!

Because the text has been written to rhyme, sometimes the mathematical concepts are not clearly presented.

I thought the words and the illustrations contain all of the elements for each equation. I guess sometimes the rhymes can be clunky, I think that is because I shortened some books to have the same amount of verses. Please let me know if I missed something, it’s really hard to be objective when you create something yourself.

The publisher didn’t ask me to change anything, their decision was a “no”, so I didn’t have the opportunity to work with or compromise with them regarding the feedback they offered. But the rejection offered me an opportunity to look at Arithmetic Village with fresh eyes.

Deep down, there was always a little something in me that knew that the books on their own are simply not enough. That’s why I offer ideas and resources on the website and am developing a set of activity books. But some people do not have the time or inclination to go from book to website to figure out how to create a plan for their own child. I am a lover of open-ended learning, but not all people are comfortable with that type of approach. I thought the videos would help, but that leaves each person changing media from book to video to hands on activity. I’ve secretly known that there is some sort of “missing piece” with AV, but haven’t been able to put my finger on it.

Then one night, I was watching my daughter with an activity book and I put the two together. Each book needs an ACTIVITY BOOK! This will provide the consistency from book to the activities.

The thought of this makes me very, very happy! I have already sketched up a complete book, and need to get started on photoshop! I hope they don’t take long to finish.

Then I plan on combining the stories, activity books, games, treasure chests, jewels, bags, and paper dolls into a kit, then approach another company to help me sell and market.

All of the pieces are finally coming together in the village.