Finding the Magic in Maths

From the time we wake up and look at our alarm clock, pour out our cereal and milk, and drive out our driveway to the time we finish the day with a warm hot chocolate and reading our favourite books before setting the alarm clock and heading to bed, maths is everywhere. 

In Week 9 last term, the whole school celebrated this fact and held our very own Maths Week.

Teachers and students jumped on board with great enthusiasm - ready to showcase their mathematical skills and apply these to everyday life.

Linking with our POWER values, we introduced Maths Week POWER Money. Students were awarded POWER money for displaying our POWER values at school. There were four different denominations - $5, $10, $20 and $50 notes. 

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Students accumulated these throughout the day and across the week. At the end of each day, they added up their total and the student from each class with the most money could choose a Prize from our POWER 4 Learning prize box. At the end of the week the students who had earned the most money across the whole week were invited to a pizza lunch. 

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Accumulating POWER money across the week meant that students were working with numbers well in excess of one hundred and in some cases well above one thousand!

Financial Literacy is an area of mathematics that students engage enthusiastically with. It is also an important life skill.

“ Financial capability supports the NZC's vision by providing a context for students to become:

  • informed decision makers

  • financially literate and numerate

  • enterprising and entrepreneurial

  • contributors to the well-being of New Zealand.

Supporting students to become responsible, confident, and independent managers of money will enable them to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities.

Financial capability, as a cross curricular theme for learning, aligns with the NZC principles, especially coherence, future focus, and community engagement. It also enables students' development of the key competencies and exploration of the NZC values in relevant and meaningful ways. “ https://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-resources/NZC-Online-blog/Financial-capability-in-New-Zealand-schools 

Students were encouraged to engage in mathematical problems and activities in contexts that they could relate to. 

Our junior students were invited to complete a dinosaur scavenger hunt - finding dinosaurs hidden around the school. They had to be quick to find them, as our students were very keen to hand in the dinosaurs they found around the playground.

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Once they had found all the dinosaurs, they used this information to investigate dinosaurs mathematically.

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There were several key early mathematical skills that were used in this scavenger hunt. Students needed to keep a record of the dinosaurs they found using either a tally chart or using one to one counting on a number line.  Once they had found them all, they had to use materials or drawings to work out how many legs the dinosaurs had altogether - first if the dinosaurs each had 2 legs and then if they had 4. Some students would be able to skip count in 2’s or 4’s to solve this problem. Skip counting is one of the early multiplication strategies students use in mathematics. 

Room 11 took on the newspaper challenge.

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Students were given one piece of A4 paper, a pair of scissors and the challenge to create the longest piece of paper they could. 

This needed careful planning and preparation. If the paper ripped, it would affect how long their piece of paper could be - so their paper could not be cut or torn too thinly. The longest pieces of paper were between 8 and 10 metres long - all from 1 piece of A4 paper. 

Students were also given the opportunity to create a poster to explain a mathematical concept. Many students chose to enter this competition and there were seven winners selected. Each of these posters clearly explained a mathematical concept.

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Did you know that if you add an even and an odd number it will always equal an odd number? And that if you add an odd number with an odd number it will always equal an even number? - test it out!

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Throughout the week you may have also noticed some problems written on the concrete around the school - these came from Maths Walks.

Classes moved around the school solving these problems, and I’m sure I even spotted a few parents having a go too.

Visit this site if you wish to challenge yourself even further - you could make it a family challenge.

Mathematics is easy to bring into everyday life. Spend the time talking to your children about maths in the world, and this will help them to apply skills and knowledge learnt at school to real life contexts. 

Keywords:  Mathematics, Maths Week, Maths Walks

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