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Primary Magazine - Issue 3: Focus on

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 08 October 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 July 2009 by ncetm_administrator

 Primary Magazine Issue 3

Welcome to the third issue of the NCETM monthly Primary Magazine. In this issue we explore the mathematical possibilities of children’s book week in our ‘Focus’. Our feature, ‘A little bit of history’, looks at the Greek number system and our interview is with Johnny Ball, a well-known celebrity and television presenter.  
Focus on... Children’s Book Week 6 – 12 October
Welcome to the Children’s Book Week issue of the Primary Magazine. Children’s Book Week is 6 - 12 October, 2008, and this year’s theme is rhythm and rhyme. A free teachers’ pack arrived in all primary schools last term, but if you can’t find it, download your own.

The pack contains lots of great ideas for activities, including some mathematical poetry. However, one thing you won’t find is any recommendations for mathematics story books, which is a shame because there are many fabulous books out there. An appropriate story can be used to support the introduction and development of a concept or to consolidate learning and help make the concept under consideration more accessible.

Click here to download the Children’s Book Week poster. I doubt the poster was designed to be a mathematical resource, but it certainly has the potential to be exactly that. Display a copy on your whiteboard and use it as a focus for number and shape questions. Try these: Which shapes have been used to make the floor? Name another shape which tessellates. Which two shapes will tessellate together? How many books can you see? Warning: These questions will cause some discussion! How many cones can you see? How many spheres?

In the Foundation Stage, try Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews. The rhyming text supports counting from one to ten, showing the relevant number of black dots in a variety of pictures. Children could make their own pictures using a specific number of dots.

One of my all-time favourites is A Remainder of One by Elinor J Pinczes. This is a fabulous story, perfectly pitched for Key Stage 1 children. The queen bug likes things tidy when her bug troops parade before her. Poor soldier Joe keeps messing things up by being a remainder of one. He tries various solutions to keep the squadron of 25 in equal lines and is a very happy bug when he solves the problem. The mathematical content is intrinsic to the story, not an add on. Although the main focus of the story is on problem solving using division and division with remainders, the patterned bugs in the illustrations mean you could easily use it for some data handling activities too. Try dividing the class by 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s. Can the children predict whether or not there will be a remainder? Will any remainder always be one? What is the largest possible remainder for each calculation?

Look at the bugs on the book cover. Count them - don’t forget Joe in the middle! Can the bugs form two equal lines, including Joe? How about 3 or 4 equal lines – without leaving anyone out? How many lines must there be for Joe to be included? How many bugs in each of those lines?

How many bugs have red on their wing cases? How many bugs have zig-zags on their wing cases? How many have both red and zig-zags? Ask a question for your class to answer.

Click here
for a lesson idea using this book.  

For Key Stage 2, books by Cindy Neuschwander have a great deal to offer. Titles such as Sir Cumference and the First Round Table and Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi give a clue to what each story is about. The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensburger is a challenging mathematical adventure. After setting the scene with the first chapter, you could pick and choose relevant chapters to support your current area of learning. Although these texts do not rhyme, they are very memorable stories which will support the understanding of mathematical concepts.

For a brief look at the contents of these books click here and then click on the book covers.
There are many more books which can be used to support primary mathematics. See the Mathematical Stories Booklist. In fact, you can find something mathematical in almost any story if you read it with a mathematical hat on. Stories complement whatever you are doing in mathematics, whether you are following the primary framework, a commercial scheme of work or your own thing. So use a few of your favourites to help make Children’s Book Week a truly cross-curricular experience!
Five fascinating facts about books:
The Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA, contains 28 million books and has 532 miles of shelving. If you were driving past in a car at a constant 70 mph, it would take you just under 8 hours to pass them all.

Use this one for a great starter. Ask questions such as: How many books would you pass in five minutes? How much room on the shelf does the average book need? How many books on a mile of shelving? 

The origin of the Latin word for book, ‘liber’, comes from the Romans,who used the thin layer found between the bark and the wood (the liber) before the times of parchment. The English word comes from the Danish word for book, ‘bog’, meaning birch tree, as the early people of Denmark wrote on birch bark.

The smallest book in the world is called Chemin de la Croix. It has 119 pages. It is 5 cm (2 inches) high and 3.3 cm (1 1/3 inches) wide. The largest book in the world is an atlas which is in the British Museum. It is 1.8 metres (5 feet 10 inches) high and 1.2 metres (3 feet by 6 inches) wide.

The first book published is thought to be the Epic of Gilgamesh, written at about 3 000 BC in cuneiform, an alphabet based on symbols.

And a couple more you might like...
In a 1631 edition of the King James Bible - in Exodus 20 verse 14 - the word "not" was left out. This changed the 7th commandment to read - "Thou shalt commit adultery." Most of the copies were recalled immediately and destroyed on the orders of Charles I.
The Bible, the world's best-selling book, is also the world's most shoplifted book.
A rare first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll raised $1.5m at auction in New York, making this the most valuable children's book ever sold. The book was Carroll's own working copy that he used to prepare the text for a simplified version for younger children.

Click here to download the Mathematics Stories Booklist. 
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Primary Focus. Explore the NCETM web portal with these quick and easy ideas to get you started.  
Visit the Primary Magazine Archive

Browse... Issue 3
Starter of the month, A little bit of history, Focus on, How mathematics has influenced my life, Something to share

Starter of the month


A little bit of history




The Interview - Johnny Ball


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