KG- Maths, Paper Plane Inquiry shows understanding of measurement.

How do you engage children in ways that help them verbalise their thinking and help them learn?

The children organise their own day and always make time for their ‘own time’ or free inquiry. This provides me with so much evidence of learning.

During these sessions I observe the children to see:

  • Where their passion lie (e.g. lists for the space ship or making paper planes).
  • What their current understanding are, and if they are applying taught skills (e.g.reading writing, number strategy)
  • What vocabulary the children are using.
  • How the social dynamics of the class are developing.

Does this mean children miss out on the taught curriculum?

Not at all.  I knew we needed to carry out work on measurement, for example.  I set about looking for a real reason to measure that would get the children excited. I have never been so happy to have a paper plane knock into my head! The answer literally feel in my lap. Waiting for a reason that sparks learning saves time because the children already have something to reference their developing understanding to.

Teacher generated, child supported learning.

Every time we need to find something out we discuss the best method. Sometimes I may make a suggestion. Come and look in the classroom, we are making a display of different methods. Of course the best example is the children’s ‘Who will do the calendar chart’. I am now looking to see if the children apply their taught skills, let me know if you see something at home.

Generating the inquiry.

As you can see from the video this has given me so much data on the vocabulary of measurement the children have. I also know something about their level of understanding about measurement. I took one of the planes made last week  and started thinking out loud about it:

  • I was wondering if all planes go the same distance? Why not?
  • Do they go the same distance each time? How do you know that?
  • What is the best plane? How can you be sure?

These questions can not be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are many possible ways of thinking. Try out such questions at home.


Next step… watch this space.

Learning beyond the classroom- beautiful maths for Molly.

Molly is in England and we all miss her very much. The good news is we can stay in touch and continue learning together. The children decided the best way to share their maths with Molly was to make her a video. They decided what they wanted to share. Here it is.

The children decided to call the it the ‘beautiful maths for Molly video’.

KP-Number Boggle

Do you want to learn how to play number boggle? Watch this video Mai, Sojiro, Jolie and Molly made it for you.

I helped edited but the filming and ideas are all there’s. I only saw it at the editing stage. Note the incredible filming, directing and cast.

How many ways can you find?

Please share with us, leave comments or tweets.

How can my child become a successful mathematician?

It is nearly time to send home the report and portfolio. I hope this information helps you understand how your child learns. You will see examples in the portfolio. I have focused on our shape unit, but this applies to every area of maths and the curriculum.

It’s a bit long…. but I do hope you find it useful.

The poster shows a hierarchy of thinking and can be applied to any area of learning. Note that remembering facts is considered the easiest form of thinking, followed by understanding. Pages of addition sums where you remember and show some understanding would not be considered the work of successful mathematician. There is defiantly a place for remembering but we want more, MUCH MORE. We want successful creative mathematicians. We do not underestimate what young children can do. Our programme depends high level thinking.

We use the Primary Years programme maths document as the basis of our teaching. We can divide our teaching and learning into three parts. These stages are often shown in a circle; our learning knows no end.

Let’s see some examples from the class to help you construct your understanding.

Constructing Meaning

IMG_0457Children use all their pervious experience to help them understand something new. This is best achieved by letting children use all their senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing) to activate their brains. They need time to put their ideas into words as they discuss their findings with others. Now they can begin to make new connections based on past experience.

The children  are constantly constructing their ideas about shape. I gave them as many shape manipulatives as I could find (manipulatives are things you can touch like blocks) and told the children to use them any way they wanted. I then gathered the children together and asked them:

  • What is a shape? (some answers: circle, square, rectangle, diamond, arrow)
  • Where can I find shapes? (Some answers: an ice cream is a triangle, the world is a circle)

Transferring Meaning

IMG_0689Children use their own language to explain their learning. They may choose to write down or draw their findings, make models or act it. We would move to tradition forms of notation (+ – =) only when the children have shown their understanding.

The children meet the alien from space who does not understand shape. They had to explain their understanding of specific shapes they had sorted so the alien could learn to identify shape. I then gave them the mathematical vocabulary needed to describe shape e.g. children’s explanation ‘point bit’, mathematical term vertex or vertices.

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Applying with understanding

This is where children show their understanding in new situations. They are applying skills and knowledge beyond their previous experiences.

The children have shown this by:

Using their knowledge and properties of 2D shapes to explain 3D shapes when they went for a walk to the shrine e.g. ‘It’s a cuboid, look rectangle and squares, makes the faces’

They can apply their understanding using patterns. Looking at the blank 100 squares and filling it in using numbers patterns they know, e.g. writing backwards from 100 because they know the pattern is 9- (- must be then be 9,8,7,6,5,4,3…).

They can make their ideas known, explaining and justifying their mathematical thinking and strategies, for example explaining the strategy they used to find a missing number in a line e.g. ‘I count backwards from 10.’