Making Maths Sticks

9 November 2011 · 2 comments

in Maths Outdoors

Here in the UK we are leaving autumn and definitely heading into winter. Whilst many teacher believe that this means more time indoors, I tend to see the opportunities to do activities which can’t be done at other times of the year.



One example is aspects of tree work. Winter is the season for planting trees, establishing willow structures and general pruning. At the weekend I was visiting relatives, who happened to mention that they had coppiced some hazel (see the above photo) and just left the long shoots to be burnt on the bonfire.

I couldn’t help, but take a look. To my delight I found lots of material just ready to be cut into measuring sticks of different lengths.

This is a practical maths activity in its own right. There’s a lot of measuring required and careful attention is needed in order to choose the straightest parts of the hazel shoots.

I tried to use as much of the shoots as possible. Hazel is a beautiful wood and the poles it makes, amongst other things, are ideal for stick work. In the photo below is the material gathered from about 4 poles: long and short sticks, twigs and noggins.

As a rule of thumb, I’m finding that a class pack of sticks tends to involve 72 x 30cm sticks, 72 x 60cm sticks, 36 x 1m sticks and now I’m beginning to build up a collection of 120cm sticks. That’s exciting and makes for a good winter challenge. If you don’t have the good fortune to have access to land with ready-to-coppice trees, then order sticks from Muddy Faces.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Debi November 9, 2011 at 16:46

I find I am becoming much more resourceful in my quest to obtain natural objects for play. One man’s trash …

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Juliet Robertson November 9, 2011 at 18:54

Well said Debi! So apt for this post. Thanks.

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