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Primary Magazine - Issue 96: Expanding Y6 Mathematical Horizons after SATs week

Created on 25 April 2017 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 09 May 2019 by ncetm_administrator


Primary Magazine Issue 96children in classroom - courtesy of pfeg

Expanding Y6 Mathematical Horizons after SATs week

There are still weeks of the summer term left after the Y6 SATs. Depending on your school’s approach, there will have been more or less emphasis on the importance of the key Y6 week in May. Much as SATs should be a snapshot of how a cohort is doing, rather than something that pupils are drilled for relentlessly, there is inevitably a sigh of relief when they are over. For any Y6 teacher and their class, the tempo changes to some degree.

How do we manage that tempo change? Some pupils may be exhausted, some may be hard to motivate, some may feel they have seen enough maths for this term, thank you very much. How does your school’s scheme of work deal with this period?

Our primary team at the NCETM is expanding, and in this feature, we ask two of our new primary Assistant Directors, for their ideas for Y6 in the post-SATs summer period.

Emma Patman suggests spending some time on practical, financial education. She says:

In an ever changing and demanding society when it comes to money, it is vital we equip children with financial skills and knowledge to cope with issues such as debt, savings, earnings and spending. Having asked some lower Key Stage two pupils, ‘Where does money come from?’, I was mildly startled by their answers: ‘The machine in the wall’, ‘It just gets printed’ and ‘The shop’ (perhaps alluding to getting cashback?). Here are some ideas we tried at my school:

  • We liked using the stories from Values, Money and Me. In particular, I enjoyed using the Finders Keepers story with KS2 children. The children debate what the characters should do when they find some money, and share their first-hand experiences.
  • In a village school, links with the community are particularly important, and children are encouraged to go and use their maths skills to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at our local greengrocers. Pupils gain practice in handling money, using the language of transactions (good manners etc), working out what they can afford, walking safely to the shop etc.
  • My Money Week is an initiative from the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg), that runs in June.

Alison Hopper has these two ideas up her sleeve:

Investigating Shapes made by Midpoints

This activity investigates the shapes made by joining the midpoints of the sides of quadrilaterals, with a curious and unexpected result.

Long loops of string or elastic help to introduce this activity, using physical movement in the playground.

diagram of midpoints

Four children hold the string/elastic in the shape of a rectangle. Four more children go and stand at the midpoints of each side. What shape is created if these four points are joined (string/elastic handed to the midpoint children helps create the new shape)? Repeat by forming and joining the mid points of this new shape.

What questions could we ask about these shapes? What predictions could you make about these shapes? What have we found? How can we be sure? How can you convince others?

Children can be given, or helped to create, a series of possible statements and questions to use as starting points. For example:

  • Will the pattern of shapes be the same if you start with a trapezium?
  • Does the ratio of the long and short sides stay the same in all the shapes created?
  • The area of each new shape will be half the area of the previous shape.
  • The perimeter of each new shape will be half the perimeter of the previous shape.

Digging for Victory

enlarged allotment diagram
(click to enlarge)

Designing a ‘Dig for Victory’ garden plan is a great way to bring maths into your WW2 project. Children can mark out the plot size on the playground in chalk and then investigate how wide paths have to be and what the best size is for a bed so that it can be weeded easily.

  • Details can then be given about space required for different crops to grow, so the children can then draw up a planting plan.
  • Given growing times from planting to harvesting, pupils can work out when different crops need to be planted and which will be ready at the same time for harvesting.
  • Children can also cook recipes using the ingredients which would have been grown. Recipes give opportunities for scaling and proportion, mass, capacity and time calculations.

Further suggestions from the NCETM magazine team

  • Take some time to explore the visual beauty of maths. It’s easy to see mathematics in visual patterns and other artworks. However, it is harder to know how to use art to learn maths (or vice versa). Artful Maths and NRICH’s selection of art-related resources offer some great ideas, as well as our own archive of The Art of Mathematics articles.
  • Starting by working out the probability of getting a dry day, now is the best time of year to get your class outside to appreciate the maths in the world around them, or to be able to physically participate in some mathematical activity on a larger scale. No shortage of inspiration from Creative Star – Maths Outdoors or this Maths Treasure Hunt. For those interested in pursuing outdoor learning of maths in more depth, the NCETM’s Learning Maths Outside the Classroom pages are a good place to start. And previously in the Primary Magazine, we had a four-part series about maths trails - see Issues 52, 53, 55 and 56.
  • With transfer to secondary school uppermost in the minds of your class, these weeks may be ideal time to liaise with local secondaries to smooth the transition. Secondary teachers are likely to have more time post-exams to consider their new intake and will need to re-configure their expectations of Y7s under the new national curriculum. Beginning a project, that is continued in Y7, can be a nice way forward with this – for example the Y6 Spirals Project from Lancashire Grid for Learning (with continuation, Y7 Golden Number Project).


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