Monday Maths: Every Little Helps

Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics. ~Dean Schlicter

This post is part of my ongoing series to try and get more children excited about maths.

Inspection

Each week, my Brownies do inspection.  They get points for inspection and at the end of the term, the six with the most points gets a prize.  I like Six prizes – they encourage them to help each other improve.  What are they inspected on, I hear you ask?

They are marked out of 20 –

• 5 for wearing full, correct, and clean uniform (or sensible clothes if they’re new),
• 5 for having neat hair, brushed and tied back,
• 5 for having clean and unbitten fingernails, and
• 5 for their bag – which contains their Adventure and Badge books and five “useful items”.

It’s a scale, so if they’ve got for example unbitten fingernails but writing all over their hands, they might get 3.

You would think that adding up all of that takes ages – especially since our unit has 30 girls in it.  But it’s actually quite quick, because the girls do most of the work.

The Sixers inspect their sixes and then each other, and do all the addition and subtraction to figure out how many points they have.  Then the girls come and tell me – practicing the skill of remembering a message for a few minutes in the process.  I love multi-pointed activities!

It doesn’t sound very mathematical, does it?  But in the case of maths, even the smallest things contribute to the girls’ improvement.

Take every opportunity

There are a million little chances to do maths every day.  You just have to look for them.  Here are some I’ve come across recently:

• “How many nights away do I have?” – this question was posed on camp, and my chart hadn’t been updated since the previous camp.  So we discussed how many nights the current camp was, and did the addition.  Excitingly, it was a round number – a whole 20 nights away with Guiding!
• “How long have we got for this activity?” – well, we’ve got three groups, and you’ve got an hour to do them all, so you tell me!
• “How many sweets are we allowed?” – this was a hunting game.  I’d bought multipacks of sweets, split them up, and hidden them around the garden.  By adding up the numbers on the outside of the multipack wrappers, we knew how many sweets I’d hidden.  Then we counted the Brownies and did some division – so you’re allowed to find three sweets before returning to base, and if everyone does that there will be six left over.  Some for the leaders, methinks!

The key here is not to do too much at a time.  It’s not a maths lesson at school, it’s life!