Origo Education Big Books

I was contacted a few months ago by Origo Education and asked if I would review some of their new early learning products. I had never seen Origo Education resources in the schools I had worked in so was excited to see how their resources compared to other well known companies and what made them that little bit different. I have a real passion for using books to teach maths concepts so was thrilled to find a company that specialise in creating engaging maths resources.
I was sent a set of Big Books, Big Cubes and Cards and a set of Poster Books, the resources shown below, new to their website. This review is about the Australia resources, for more details on the US resources, please click here.

All three sets of resources link to the Australian Early Years Framework and have a solid base in developing verbal skills, listening skills, developing maths terminology and working collaboratively. Resources can work independently of each other, or can be used simultaneously to teach a topic. Origo Education also have an online platform Slate which teachers can sign up for a free trial after purchasing products.

Due to the number of resources Origo Education sent me as well as the online platform, I will be breaking my review into three blogposts;
Origo Early Learning Big Books
Origo Big Poster Books
Origo Big Cubes and Cards

Review 1 - Origo Early Learning Big Books

There are 12 books in the Big Book Set, each book measures 430mm by 330mm, perfect for little eyes to see at a distance and not too big for a teacher to hold or place on a book stand. Each book has a thicker, sturdy front and back cover and each page is high quality paper perfect for little hands to turn. Illustrations are colourful and visually stimulating and text is simple for beginning readers to identify letters. They are simply, a beautiful resource to have in the classroom.

Looking through each book, I was impressed with the simplicity of the storyline and images, allowing children to easily stay focused on the concepts they were learning. Origo Education advertise "Encourage your little learner's love of rhyme, rhythm and engaging stories with Big Books and Tunes for Early Learning" and that is exactly what they do. Concepts being taught are highlighted in bold as you read through the story, allowing the teacher to put easy emphasis on specific words.

Titles and topics covered are:
Buster the Balloon: Comparing Two Objects
Caty the Caterpillar: Time and Sequencing Events
How Many Animals?: Counting to Five
I Think I'll Go Flying: Positional Language
Parker's Patters: Repeating Patterns
Peter Piper: Addition and Subtraction
Polly Loves Puzzles: Counting up to ten objects
Stan the Firefighter: Comparing three objects
The Racing Horses: Ordinal Numbers
The Same Game: Sorting
Which Floor Please?: Number and Relative Position
Look and See: 3D Objects

My favourite books of the series were Look and See and Parker's Patterns. I loved the direct teaching in both of these and the illustrations were outstanding. I could definitely see myself using both these books with a Foundation class.

Each shape is introduced and then children are given the opportunity to find that shape in the pictures. Pictures have wonderful real-life examples of each shape. A great opportunity to discuss shapes with children as well as an excellent introduction to a shape scavenger hunt activity. 

The visuals in Parker's Patterns were detailed, varied from page to page and could provoke great discussion within the class. There were many chances on each page to find patterns and all children could have a chance to share. Some patterns were predicable, others slightly hidden so could challenge those students who identify patterns quickly. 

I tested out Parker's Patterns and How Many Animals? with my little learner at home. He was excited initially to be reading a big book and getting to turn the big pages himself. The visuals engaged him and he loved pointing out the different numbers of animals as we practised our counting. Although the learning aspect of the books are a little above his current age, he happily read along and discussed the text with me and pointed to things he saw in the pictures.

You can download a sample of the Big Books directly from the Origo Education website to see more pages from each text.

So how are these big books different to other big books I have seen? 
Firstly, I haven't had access to such wonderful Math Big Books before. I have been in schools that have had the occasional Math big book, but never as comprehensive as this collection. Even though they are designed for Early Learners, I can see some of these titles being applicable in the Primary School classroom as well. As a Foundation to Grade 2 teacher I would have no hesitation in purchasing Big Books specific to those levels, if the Early Learners pack is anything to go by, the books would be a wonderful addition to any maths program. Click here to find out more information on the Foundation set, Grade 1 set and Grade 2 set.

Secondly, the online resources also sells the books to me. I love the idea of being able to read and discuss a book with the class and then follow up with online, interactive activities or follow through the clearly researched and engaging lesson plans.

Slate Online Platform
Slate, the Origo Education online platform, is free to organisations who purchase the set of Big Books and can be accessed through the Origo Education website. All information is sent to the main contact when a purchase is made. Slate is very easy to navigate and use, with everything organised by title and clearly displayed. One little thing that appealed to me was that when I log out, when I log back in again, it automatically loads the last page I was on, perfect for teachers who like to get organised for online activities ahead of time.

When I logged into Slate, I selected "Big Book Tools for Early Learning" and had access to teacher notes, an interactive activity, lesson plans as well as a tune to go along with the book I had selected. There are between 9 and 12 activities included for each book as well as BLM and task cards for the children. This is excellent from a time management perspective, I don't have to spend extra time coming up with activities to do with each book, everything has been done for me, along with explicit teaching questions and prompts. Activities were sequential but you could easily pick and choose as well. I was impressed with the variety of activities included and thought that had been put into the concepts being taught in each book.

Example of some of the activities included with the book "Parker's Patterns".

Short snippet of an activity with associated resource, simply print and photocopy for each student. 

Under "Big Book Tunes" I found a song that has been written specifically to go with the Big Book you are reading. Listening to the tune is an activity for each book. Engaging and gives you a chance to re-read the story in a different way.

As much as I enjoy having access to all this information online, I do like to have a printed copy, so I would be printing many of the lesson plans from the online tool, luckily they have this as an option! In a school setting, I would store the books with the teacher notes printed and ready for any teacher to use.

I am feeling incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to look at these amazing resources and share them with you. The thought and care that has been put into every aspect from the design of the book to the engaging online activities is very much loved and appreciated by this Early Years teacher!

If you are interested in purchasing these Big Books you can head to the Origo Education website. Although these books could be used in conjunction with the Poster Books and Big Cube and Cards, you do not need either of those resources to use these books effectively in your early learning centre or classroom.

Thanks for reading. Please ask any questions about these books, I will give you my honest opinion, so let me know if I have left out. My next blog post will be about the Origo Education Poster Books.


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