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Magical capacity to explain maths

When teaching my Year 1 class about capacity in maths - empty, half-full, nearly full and full - I prepare my vessels before the pupils come into the classroom, putting a tiny bit of different food colourings in each vessel. For my demonstration I start with a large bottle of clear water which I call my "magic water".

As I pour into each smaller vessel there are cries of amazement and "How did you do that?" as each turns a different colour.

Adding two half-filled vessels to make full ones changes the colour again and again and the children excitedly guess which colour I am going to "magic" next while they answer my questions about capacity.

With a little help they soon relate it to their colour-mixing sessions in art and guesses became more accurate.

I explain how I have created the "magic" but it has given them a lesson they have not forgotten and they even remember the maths.

Sue Collard

Year 1 class teacher and PSHE co-ordinator, Craven Park School, London borough of Hackney

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