My Brilliant Idea - Build up knowledge

31st October 2008 at 00:00


Ages 4-11 (Reception - KS12)

Children can learn maths just by walking down the street. In reception, ask them to look at the house numbers in their home street: how are they organised? If they are in the usual odds on one side and evens on the other pattern, discuss which side of the street different numbers will be on.

A row of houses is a sort of numberline. We can do some prediction and estimation activities. How many houses on each side? If we're standing outside number 21, what number is the house at the end of the road? What other number patterns are there?

In blocks of flats, pupils can find geometric patterns in the arrangements of doors and windows. Are there any triangles and circles?

For key stages 1 and 2, children can try to estimate the length of the road by measuring or estimating the frontage space of one house and multiplying by the number of houses in the street. How many are in their street?

Develop the all-important problem-solving element by asking them how to allow for differences in size and area. Get them to pace the length of the school's street; next, compare it with another's measurement; then compare it to the length of their own street.

Work on shape and pattern. In Victorian or Edwardian streets, there will be patterns in stained glass decoration or in tiling on the paths (rhombuses, triangles, squares).

At KS1, look out for shapes, simple symmetries and repeating patterns; at KS2, explore more complex patterns and look out for examples of rotational symmetry.

For KS2, look for the line of symmetry in semi-detached houses. Help pupils discover that differences in paint colour, curtains or additions will mean houses are not truly symmetrical. Get them to explain the reasons for "not quite symmetry", in each case.

Alison Brunt is from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.

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