Numbers from many nations

17th March 1995 at 00:00
Mathematics from many cultures: levels 2 and 3 Pounds 29.95 each pack Kingscourt Publishing, 20 British Grove, Chiswick, London W4 2NL.

Brian Weller looks at a primary resource which explores maths around the world. Each pack consists of seven posters; a book which contains the same posters in book format, and a 72-page teachers' book, including a series of photocopiable worksheets.

Overall, the packs contain a wealth of material whict effectively demonstrates that maths is an activity which has developed in every corner of the world, and should not be seen as a European invention.

At level 2, for six-year-olds, the topics represented include "How the days got their names", referring to Roman, Viking and Japanese days of the week; "Counting", which uses native American and African finger signs and "Cat's Cradles" showing string art and games from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Other topics covered involve ideas about the Hindu-Arabic number system, games that originate in Africa, China and Europe, and shapes in New Zealand, native American and African textiles.

The posters are well designed with colourful illustrations, each having a map of the world in the corner, indicating the country or continent relevant to the picture or text.

Many Year 1 children would not be able to read all the information that is provided or the set of questions that appear on each poster, but these do form useful prompts for teachers who would need to initiate discussions on each topic to make the most from this valuable resource.

The teachers' book contains a good dealt of useful background to each of the posters, pointing out mathematical and cultural links, the historical context, connections with other areas of the curriculum and ideas for discussions and follow-up activities. There are helpful worksheet originals which are provided to support such work.

The level 3 pack follows the same format, with another interesting range of topics with mathematical links. The poster on "Special Buildings" is particularly good, with illustrations of temples from Pakistan, Cambodia and Central America which could lead pupils into discussions both on geometrical shapes and world religions.

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