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Sharing Fairly Through Fractions

Before starting my Placement with MakeBelieve Arts, I was very intrigued as to how they would teach Maths using drama. I’ve had idea’s how to teach other subjects using drama and theatre, but I never thought Maths could be taught in this way.

The Year 4 class had already started learning about fractions the week before and had been told that Stanley and Thomas (characters) had been given a farm after their father had passed away and left it to them in his will. His last words were: “Share everything equally”. So, splitting into pairs and using masking tape, each pair split their “fields” in half, so both Stanley and Thomas got an equal share of the field. Then they split each half of the field into eighths.

Nosey Neighbour Nelly liked the land that the brothers had and wanted to buy some of it. She offered to buy, 3/8 of Stanley’s field and 1/2 of Thomas’. The pupils then had to work out if this was fair for both brothers, but it wasn’t as Thomas was losing more of his field, so Nosey Neighbour Nelly tried again. This time she offered to buy 5/8 of Stanley’s field and 3/4 of Thomas’. Again, this wasn’t fairly split as Thomas was still losing more of his field. Nosey Neighbour Nelly then said: “This is my FINAL offer”. She wanted to buy 2/4 of Stanley’s field and 4/8 of Thomas’. The class decided that it was fair as both the brothers would be left with half of their field.

Nosey Neighbour Nelly didn’t have any money and so offered to pay the brothers in animals. She offered them 1/2 of her 6 pigs, 1/3 of her 3 horses, 2/3 of her 3 sheep, and 1/4 of her 12 cows, so the brothers would have 9 animals between the both of them. The class first had to work out how many animals the 2 brothers would get (3 pigs, 1 horse, 2 sheep, and 3 cows = 9 animals). The class then had to split up the animals evenly, but how would they do it with an odd number of animals, as you can’t split an animal in half? They were asked to value each animal. Cows would be valuable because of milk and possibly food, sheep give you wool, pigs can be made into food and a horse can help work on the farm. Each pair came up with a fair way to distribute the animals between the 2 brothers.

By being in the session, I realised that using a simple story can help to grab the children’s attention, and the Maths can be incorporated into the story. I knew what the facilitators were doing and even I forgot that they were teaching Maths as it was fun, engaging and the word Maths was never actually used. The pupils looked like they were enjoying themselves and, like me, forgot they were being taught Maths.

A really enjoyable and eye opening experience for me as a facilitator as well as looking at different ways to engage an audience, no matter what age and no matter what subject  is being taught, as long as you have an interesting story to keep people engaged.

The joy of 100

Early on in our planning we were aware that there was something interesting and exciting about seeing 100 of something. We have experimented with a range of props begged and borrowed from the MakeBelieve Arts prop store which has seen our group counting everything from 100 grains of rice to 100 mega blocks. We are now working with a life-size number square, made from circular table mats which goes from 1 to 100 which is large enough for the children to walk on and create mathematical pathways, explore sequences and play with addition and subtraction in a kinaesthetic way.