The numeracy column

11th June 1999 at 01:00
Jenny Houssart juggles money and time.

Many current documents mention the millennium, and the framework for teaching mathematics is no exception. It considers time in some detail and includes vocabulary such as "century" and "millennium".

Children are likely to hear about the millennium and will encounter dates in many contexts. One useful starting point is loose change, be it British or foreign, ancient or modern. If they know, or can work out, their year of birth, looking for coins made then can be the first step. Then they can look for coins made before they were born.

Can anyone find a coin minted this year? Can they reach any conclusions about when the first 1p coin was made? Can they find a coin made every year in between these two? Results of a coin survey can be graphed. Dealing with each year separately may not generate a helpful graph; would grouping by decades or in some other way help?

Coin dates can also lead to calculations. So a search for coins made in leap years might lead to tests for divisibility by four. Starting with a given coin, children can find a coin made 10 years earlier. Can they explain how they worked out the date of the coin they were seeking? Working out a coin's age (bun pennies excluded) is easy once children realise they only have to calculate with the last two digits.Of course they will soon need a more interesting method - there's no escaping the effects of the millennium.

* Links to the National Framework for Teaching Mathematics in primary schools

Vocabulary of Time Know own year of birth (Y3,4) ... vocabulary such as century, millennium (Y4,5,6) ... decade, leap year (Y5,6).

Handling Data Collect and represent data ... using bar charts (Y3,4,5) ... bar charts where discrete data are grouped (Y6).

Calculating Count on or back in steps of 10 (Y3,4) ... use tests of divisibility (Y6).

Jenny Houssart is a research fellow at the Open Univesirty Centre for Maths

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