Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Outdoor Activities

12 May 2012 · 2 comments

in Maths Outdoors

Almost one year ago I blogged about a class that created fraction walls with wind-fallen sticks. This was very successful and really required a bit of organisation and thought by the P6 (Y5) children.

Earlier this year I noticed that Muddy Faces was selling a maths set made up of:

  • 1 x 100cm stick
  • 2 x 50cm sticks
  • 4 x 25cm sticks
  • 10 x 10cm sticks

With these lengths, immediately I wanted to start exploring the possibilities around using these materials to explore simple fractions, decimals and percentages. Naturally, it’s good to get other people thinking too, as a problem shared is a problem halved…

The first time they were used I made the mistake of pointing out that the sticks were sold in kits to make squares. This set people off looking at scale, ratio, area and perimeters rather than the fractions I was hoping for.

At one primary school, I set an able group of children in P5 (Year 4) the challenge of making up a game or activity which would help children younger than themselves learn about fractions, decimals or percentages. In the photo above, one child worked by himself to create maze. It didn’t turn out as he hoped. But when experimenting, this will inevitably happen.

Below, another group of children lined up the sticks….

They proceeded to demonstrate a jumping activity. When a person jumped, the landing point was noted and the sticks were counted. They were able to measure to the nearest 10cm by using these lengths creatively.

The final group went for a game of hide ‘n’ seek. They used one set of sticks and hid them in different parts of the playground. Other children had to find the sticks and use them to create a fraction wall.

On another training course, a group came up with a very simple approach to demonstrating the relative values of the lengths as a decimal. The plastic lid represents the decimal point. So below, the number displayed is 1.3m or 1 3/10ths. For me, this is a lovely, quick interactive activity to get children warmed up at the start of a maths session.

I feel these ideas have merely scratched the surface of a little kit that has the potential to aid children’s thinking around fractions, decimals and percentages. In particular I liked listening to the mathematical conversations taking place as the children and adults discussed the challenges and extended their own lines of thinking in some instances.

Any ideas, thoughts and suggestions appreciated. It’s all an experiment 🙂

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Deborah (Teach Preschool) May 13, 2012 at 12:36

Ever since you posted that first “stick math” post, I have looked at using sticks differently in my program. We do a simple type of stick math all the time now!

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