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Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts 10 - Developing an Understanding of Pairs

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Created on 27 May 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 25 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts
A collection of memorable mathematics lessons that conference and colloquia delegates had observed or taught which they felt were successful.  Each account refers to one or more of the values and principles in the report.

Lesson Account 10 - Developing an Understanding of Pairs

Written by Christine Hines
Organisation Leeds Metropolitan University
Age/Ability Range Observed lesson – student on training practice Age range 4-5 years – reception class. Ability mixed.

How was the session/task introduced?
Developing an understanding of pairs – counting in twos.

Introduced by the teacher relating a story about looking for a big pile of washing.

Asked questions about the meaning of the word pair – how it was different from just “2”.

What else comes in pairs?

How was the session/task sustained?
Teacher produced a laundry basket full of clean washing and asked the children to look for socks – how many socks did they find?, can they put them into pairs? , how many pairs did they have/, the relationship between the number of socks and the number of pairs of socks. Children then went to various activities – sand / water / role play area / creative to do similar activities. The teacher had hidden pairs of gloves/mittens in the sand for the children to find. The water tray was set up as part of the role play – washing day (linked to Mrs Tiggy- Winkle and Mrs Lather’s Laundry), so the socks were in the water and the children had to find them and peg them on a line in pairs. The creative area allowed the children to create pairs of socks/gloves/Wellingtons on pre-prepared cut out shapes.

How was the session/task concluded?
Children discussed what they found out – number of socks in relation to the number of pairs – was there a pattern?

What were the critical moments?
Understanding that pair was different from two.

Developing relationship between total number and sets of 2.

What mathematics was learnt? (on plan and off plan) and what is the evidence of learning?
Development of counting in 2s. Mathematical language – pairs.

Evidenced by – children’s use of language during tasks; responses to questions; reporting tasks to whole group.

How was that mathematics learnt?
Through a very practical experience that they could relate to in their everyday lives.

Other memorable outcomes
The task was accessible to all abilities.

The enjoyment children got from doing the activities.

Their keenness to report back to the whole group.

None specified


Downloadable PDF

Click here to download this lesson account in PDF format.

Values & Principles

Strategies for investigation and problem solving
Appreciation of the power of mathematics in society
Exposes and discusses common misconceptions and other surprising phenomena
Uses higher-order questions
Makes appropriate use of whole class interactive teaching, individual work and cooperative small group work
Encourages reasoning rather than ‘answer getting’
Uses rich, collaborative tasks
Creates connections between topics both within and beyond mathematics and with the real world

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Lesson Accounts Introduction

Mathematics Matters - What constitutes the effective learning of mathematics? find out more


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