New book uses Edinburgh landmarks to teach kids

Mum Sofie Young helps daughter Estrella using Edinburgh 123. Picture: Toby Williams
Mum Sofie Young helps daughter Estrella using Edinburgh 123. Picture: Toby Williams
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TEACHING an infant to count must rank among the toughest early challenges faced by parents. But help is on hand for thousands of mums and dads across the Capital – thanks to an innovative new counting book which brings the numbers challenge closer to home.

Dynamic start-up Playroom Press has published Edinburgh 123, which uses bold images of the city’s best-known landmarks, including the Castle, Forth Bridge and panda superstars Tian Tian and Yang Guang, to give kids a head start in the counting game.

With a Glasgow version in the pipeline and teaching staff already using it in classrooms, the book’s places-based approach is set to go UK-wide.

Anna Day, who founded Playroom Press with husband Chris Collins a year ago, said: “We came up with the idea when we were trying to teach our daughter to count – we’d use familiar landmarks to help her to understand letters and numbers. Kids seem to recognise numbers if they are associated with familiar shapes and places.”

Ms Day said Edinburgh 123 – which counts from one Castle and two pandas, through street performers and bagpipes, and right up to ten witches – was produced to help parents introduce their children to numbers for the first time.

“With my oldest child, Ava, who’s seven, we used to drive every day and we would count the bridges and landmarks – it just seemed a good way of getting her and other kids to count,” she said.

“Any learning is a challenge for parents but at that age it’s your responsibility to teach your children. When they’re that little, they’re totally dependent on parents to provide a learning structure, so you need to find an interesting way of engaging them.”

Ms Day said the book, now available at stockists such as Waterstones and online, was also designed to highlight the Capital’s unique qualities.

“The book is a celebration of everything Edinburgh, the festivals and museums and the history that make the city great,” she said. “It’s a brilliant place to grow up and we want to make sure children are proud of their city, but the book is also for visitors to the city to take home with them.”

Sofie Young, 34, a mum of two from the Leith Walk area, said her two-year-old daughter, Estrella, had already made progress with counting because of the strong visual association between numbers and landmarks she could see from the windows of her own home.

She said: “Estrella loves the book – when she saw the pandas she immediately went, aw, and gave them both a little kiss.

“For Edinburgh parents, it’s really good – the kids have a point of reference. They can associate a picture with an actual place or thing in their city, or go out and visit it if they don’t know what it is.

“The pictures will be particularly helpful if you’re teaching a young boy, as boys don’t have a great attention span.”

The city summed up

• One tram line (when it’s eventually built)

• Two extinct volcanoes (Arthur’s Seat and Castle Rock)

• Three Forth bridges (when the new crossing is finished)

• Four universities

• Five Michelin-starred restaurants