Subject snack – Ideas for teaching Maths

Mathematics or Math as Kristen would say, is subject we often get asked about when we visit schools. Here are some of the ideas and resources that we have thought of and found that could used in the classroom. If this were a real snack it would be cheese, crackers and a little pickle, plain and simple, but satisfying.


Using Word to developing learning in maths may not seem obvious. Download the Math Add-in for Word 2007 . This allows you create, solve and visualise equations. Students can then use the usual features of word to explain the equation. If you are looking to add creativity, they could do this as poetry. For an explanation of how to use the add- in, check out this Innovid on our Youtube channel.

Word also has a set of drawing tools, this can be utilised to draw  2D and 3D shapes and other objects. Right clicking to change the properties allows students to accurately set the dimensions of the shape. I have used this to visualise the Fibonacci number sequence and explore ratio and scale.

A digital camera is a way great of exploring maths concepts in the local environment. This innovative teacher from Canada describes how her pupils explored quadrilaterals in and around the school, recording their ideas in Moviemaker or Photostory. See - Quadrilaterals Using Windows Movie Maker.





Here’s a quick activity using Word to create parabolic curves from straight lines. Insert a chart, label both axis 1 to 10 and remove the gridlines using the chart formatting features. Next, use the Insert shape feature to draw straight lines. Draw these from points on the axis. Start with 10 to 1, 9 to 2 etc. Next, select and copy all the lines. Delete the chart and paste the copied lines. Right click and group all the lines to form one object. Now, use the formatting tools to add colour and effects such as shadows. Copy and paste to create copies. Resize and rotate these to create interesting images. I will make a short innovid of this activity if you would like more details.

Now it's over to you, we are not Maths specialists, so we would welcome your ideas of activities that support maths teaching and learning. You can email your ideas (using the email blog author link above), or leave us a comment. We will post your contributions next Monday and send something from the Partners in Learning ‘goodie closet’ to the authors of those we publish**


**UK Teachers only

Comments (2)

  1. Alessio Bernardelli says:

    I know that many Maths Teachers will have already used PowerPoint to great effect in helping children understand and visualize geometrical problems, but I think the drawing tools (in particular shapes) used in conjunction with custom animations are worthy of mention in a Maths snack. In fact, there are many concepts that shape drawing and animations can facilitate. E.g. when introducing integrals you could start from an "infinitesimal" rectangle for the portion of the graph you are considering and then add more and more rectangles to show that the sum of all the rectangles adds up to give the area under the line! This is already done effectively by many books, but adding one bit at a time is much more visual and logical to follow.

    Another useful application of shapes and animations is the demonstration that the area of a triangle is 1/2h*b. You could have the triangle and the rectangle of height h and base b next to it. Then, overlap the triangle on the rectangle and slice off half of the rectangle to leave only the triangle you started off with. Even better, get your pupils to make these animations, e.g. a parallelogram as the area of the relevant rectangle…

    Just a snack, but if you haven't used PowerPoint to help your pupils visualize shapes, I hope you find this comment useful!

  2. Emily Starr says:

    I use a lot of online manipulatives when introducing or exploring math concepts.  They allow for inquiry that would not otherwise be possible in the classroom because of limited time and/or resources.

    Kids and Cookies is one of my favorites.  I use it to introduce the concept of fractions in a problem based way by asking the students to figure out how an even number of kids can share an uneven number of cookies equally.…/kidcookie.php

    I describe the lesson in this free fractions ebook:

    Another of my favorite sites houses the NLVM probability spinners.  The spinner parts can be adjusted to meet the needs of any level, and spins can be recorded on a graph to show results.  Spinning a spinner 100 times and then 1000 times stimulates a discussion of theoretically probability versus experimental probability.…/frames_asid_186_g_1_t_1.html

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