Boxes back up maths

9th March 2007 at 00:00
Feely boxes are cheap and cheerful hands-on resources ideal for fostering mathematical language. They can be made easily out of sturdy cardboard boxes, used in lots of different ways and are suitable for learners of all ages.

Several mystery maths objects can be placed inside a box with two holes cut out either end for children to put their hands through. You could try putting a collection of 2D shapes in the box and ask children to find shapes with right angles, shapes with obtuse angles, shapes with parallel sides, shapes with two lines of symmetry and so on. Try this for solid shapes too.

One way to use a feely box with the whole class is to ask one person to describe what's inside and everyone else draws a picture of the object on a mini whiteboard.

The person doing the describing cannot name the shape but describes its features. Does the class reach a consensus? Children can take turns and a new object is placed inside the box each time.

Using feely boxes is a challenging and fun way of taxing children's maths thinking and vocabulary John Dabell is a numeracy consultant and teacher trainer

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today