# Loom Band Maths Sticks

21 July 2015 · 0 comments

As usual I am blogging way behind the times! Loom bands were last year’s craze. I have sat with a packet in my drawer meaning to have some fun and somehow time has moved on. Regardless, I still feel this is worth blogging about.

Firstly what really got me going was the Rainbow Maths Sticks. I thought it would be fun to make the colours moveable. There is power in movement as it enables further experimentation. To begin with, there are 10 colours of loom bands. So each colour can be assigned a digit as illustrated below.

Thus when two colours are wrapped on a stick, suddenly there is a choice: make a repeating pattern (blue-red-….), add the numerical value of each colour (6+1=7), subtract the numbers (6-1=5), multiply the numbers (6×1=6), etc.

Children can make simple sums and pass them to a partner to add the correct answer. At this point, it is helpful for everyone in the class to agree which colours represent which numbers.

If a number beyond 9 needs to be represented, then place value kicks in. Below, the green-orange-light blue would represent 425

See if you can work out the pattern below – it is number based rather than a colour pattern and a very well-known sequence at that!

If you do a quick internet search, lots of different maths ideas have been blogged about when it comes to using loom bands. Most are about creating pattern bracelets. Quite a number choose to use them as mini geoboards.

Another problem which I liked was around exploring probability. For example, what are the chances of putting 2 of each colour loom bands into a bag and pulling out 2 bands the same colour?

The photo below demonstrates the potential for exploring symmetry. To extend the learning, add in a second axis of symmetry. Then look at rotational symmetry within the patterns.

The beauty of using twigs and loom bands lies in the manipulation of the bands. If a child makes a mistake then it is quick and easy to swap the bands around. So it’s much better than using threading beads. Any sticks can be used and any elastic bands.

How would you use these in your class?

Remember loom bands or elastic bands need to be carefully looked after if working outside. They are small and can easily be inadvertently left out – which is a potential hazard for wildlife who could get tangled up in them or ingest them.

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