Maths in Moments

When we love teaching literacy, we tend to find lots of opportunities for adding in extra literacy in the tiny pockets of time that fill space between the main teaching activities. We look at words as we see them, we make up silly rhymes, we sing songs and we talk about books in spare moments while we are packing up, waiting outside the library, or walking to PE. These simple moments add significantly to the richness of our teaching.

In the same way, we can add to the richness of our numeracy teaching by considering how to create maths moments throughout the day.

Here are a few simple ideas for questions to help you get started. Please add your own comments as we would love to hear your ideas too.


Moments spent walking

  • How many steps do you think it will take to get to the office? I wonder if we will have the same number of steps?
  • How many windows/doors/classes are there between here and the library?
  • I wonder if we could walk in groups of three today?
  • Let’s count our steps today, but say “rabbits” every time we get to a multiple of six!
  • Left, left, left-right-left.
  • Let’s try out some directions to the oval. How many steps should we take straight ahead?… Which way should we turn?… How many steps now?…
  • Which direction are we heading in?
  • How many people do you think we are likely to pass on the way?

Moments waiting inside

  • What time is it? How long do we have until French starts?
  • What date is it today? What date will it be in a week’s time? What date was it last Monday?
  • How many feet are in our classroom today?
  • Can you please make sure every table has 12 pencils?
  • We seem to have a LOT of pencils! I wonder how many we have? Do we have more red pencils or blue pencils? How many more?
I wonder how many pencils we have?
  • What arrays can we see in the room?
  • Roll dice to get 4 digits: make the biggest number, smallest number, second smallest number
  • Roll 4 dice. Try to use any or all of the numbers to make 36. How many ways can you make it? Now try 43. Was it easier or harder?
  • What would happen if we divided our class into three groups? How many would be in each group?
  • I’ve got 4 pieces of paper here. How could we cut them so that everyone in the class had the same amount of paper?
  • Would you rather have… half of a quarter, or a quarter of a half, of a cake? (note: they are the same)
  • Start clapping a pattern and have the kids join in and repeat it.
  • Let’s look at these three things. What can you find that is the same about them? What is different about them?
  • Is our whiteboard longer than our door is high?
  • Do you think we could find a pyramid that had the same number of faces as a cube?
  • Our board is getting pretty full. I wonder how many pieces of paper it would take to properly fill it?
  • Do we have more carpet space here or at the back of the room?
  • I wonder how many books our group read this week.
  • So, who do you think is likely to win the…? How come? What chance would you give them?
  • I went to the movies this week and they cost so much more than they used to! I remember when… but now…
  • If you had about $2 to spend on a prize, what would you buy?
  • Heads or tails? (flip the coin)
  • I was paying for my lunch yesterday and the cashier said it was $4.80. I gave her $5.30 and she just looked really confused. She tried to give me back the 30c first and just use the $5 but I wanted less coins in my wallet. Why do you think I gave her $5.30?
  • Have you ever thought about how much it costs to… get fish and chips for your family/cook spaghetti for tea?
  • I found this cool graph last week… (show it)
  • I was hearing in the news this week that 65% of people…

Moments waiting outside

  • Let’s make groups with 7 feet.
  • Find a partner. Make 14 fingers. No one can use all 5 fingers on one hand.
  • How far can you get in 12 steps/jumps/hops?
  • How many jumps/push ups/hops can we do in a minute? Can we balance on one leg for a minute?
  • Can you make your bodies into the shape of ___?
  • Line up in order of your birthdays.
  • What fraction of our class is already 8 years old?
  • How likely do you think it is to rain today?
  • What shapes can you see?
  • Can you find a pyramid? Can you find a cube?
  • What can you see on your left/right/to the North/a half turn away?
  • What can you see that is about 10m away?
  • Let’s make two lines. If you are wearing something black, come on this side. If not, go on that side. What fraction of the class are wearing something black?
  • Let’s make groups by hair length: short, medium, and long. If we line up, we’ve made a graph! Now, make one big circle as a whole class, but keeping your group together. What fraction have short hair? About what angle is that in our circle? Let’s draw the separating lines on the floor to make a pie chart.
  • Can you find someone who has a similar hand/foot size to you?

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