Maths Without Limits
Opening Young Minds to Endless Possibilities
Cross-curricular Investigations

Practical Measurement

Practical work in Maths is always a hit! And what better reason to do practical measurement than in tackling an investigation.

Measurement investigations provide enormous scope for mathematical skill building:

• using measuring equipment correctly and measuring accurately
• understanding and minimising sources of error
• dealing with different people getting different results – leading to discussions on: averaging, different kinds of averages & which are appropriate when; rounding & appropriate degrees of approximation
• converting between metric measurements
• recording of measurements using diagrams
• calculations using decimals (either written or using a calculator) and appropriate ways of recording these
• step-by-step written explanations of thinking.

The three investigations here touch on: symmetry; compass points; the 24 hour clock; metric measurements for length, volume and capacity; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with decimals; similar triangles and ratio.

Numbers and Data

Most numbers in the real world are big. If not big, then they are decimals. Some children find these scary!

The simple solution is to let the children work first with easy numbers (‘try a simpler case’), work out what to do, and then do the same thing with the trickier numbers using a calculator if necessary.

Both these investigations illustrate this approach and involve tricky real-world numbers.

Here are the skills you can build this time…

• finding and recording information in a table
• showing the relationship between two amounts as a fraction
• converting fractions to percentages
• creating correctly labelled bar or column graphs with an appropriate scale
• calculating the angles for different sections in a pie chart
• drawing angles correctly, using a protractor.

Maps, Distances and Travel

A study of a local area, or of a journey, can provide a super context for learning about Scale. Using real maps provides real motivation.

Don’t restrict yourself to easy numbers! There is no reason that the children cannot work with real-world large numbers or decimals if they understand the context. If you show them how to use conversion tables they will easily grasp how to build up from simple numbers to harder ones.

If you throw in timetables as well then you can cover all the following skills: