BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK – Maths Week Ireland
Douglas Buchanan ~ email@example.com ~ www.dcbeagle.com ~ @dcbeagle1
The end of the calendar year is nigh and all involved in education should be reflecting on all the good work they have done in the educational world in difficult times. Your motivation and determination encouraged the majority of the pupils to persevere especially in mathematics.
On my travels around the country, with my infamous maths challenges, I have found that many of the young mathematicians have lost some of their spatial reasoning skills. This is reflected in the tangram and the domino activities. Of course, it would be impossible to implement as much time to this concept when ZOOM, etc was the only form of communication
In an article found in kippilar.com they point out several points about spatial reasoning:
“Visual-spatial skills are of great importance for success in solving many tasks we face in everyday life. Like following directions on map, driving a car or interacting with our environment. It is the key in developing a child’s sense of size, space, shape, position, direction and movement. Spatial reasoning is an essential math skill. Teaching math without addressing Spatial reasoning would be like making a broth without salt. It would have all the necessary ingredients and yet no taste.”
As you probably already know I do not like the idea of formal holiday work but encouraging the pupils to work through practical activities and puzzling, their mathematical skills will improve. Spatial reasoning is an ideal topic.
Tangrams – an old favourite
The pieces could be made out of card but ideally plastic / acrylic sets are much better. Learning Resources packs of six sets are £8.50. You may know of a person with a plastic cutter and / or 3D printer.
Tangram puzzles – sites include:
Fun Stuff to Do
Learn with Maths Games
The 12 pieces are versatile and many puzzles can be created. One of the first tasks is get the pupils to investigate the maximum number of pentomino shapes!
Other games / activities
Hex – board game
Tantrix – game involving hexagons and patterns on them
These pentominoes were cut out for sheets of “glass drying” mats with the hexagons being 2cm in diameter. The 30cm x 30cm sheets can sometimes be found in Euro-type shops and you can get at least three sets from each.
The tasks were created by 11 year olds I was teaching at the time. I gave them 5 x 5 blank grids and the rest was up to them.
Puzzle of the month
THE BAG OF NUTS (Henry E Dudeney)
George Crackham put five paper bags on the breakfast table. On being asked what they contained, he said: "Well, I have put a hundred nuts in these five bags. In the first and second there are altogether fifty-two nuts; in the second and third there are forty-three; in the third and fourth, thirty-four; in the fourth and fifth, thirty." How many nuts are there in each bag?
Let Us Play
More fun for the pupils over the break and next term. Of course, there is an important message regarding play in maths and even in maths lessons. This can be summed up with the following strap line found in the Thinking Mathematically website:
“[The] goal is to support all students — especially those who have not been academically successful in the past — to develop a sense of agency and ownership over their own learning. We want students to come to see themselves as intellectually capable and competent — not by giving them easy successes, but by engaging them as sense-makers, problem solvers, and creators of meaningful and important ideas”
Simple board games
UNO card games
Different activities using UNO cards
The Rainbow Sky Creations – ages 5 - 11
Edxeducation.com – simple maths starters – ages 4 - 7
Other card activities
Making maths More Fun with cards – 89 page PDF booklet
The bag of nuts solution
The five bags contained respectively 27, 25, 18, 16, 14 nuts. Each bag can be found by subtracting the other two pairs together from 100. Thus, 100 - (52 + 30) = 18, the third bag.
The time is about to come for you to sit back and relax and charge the batteries. Have a wonderful break.