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Time for my first question! I'm just wondering how other people plan opportunities for children to 'use developing mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems.' Our topic next term is transport. I'm a bit stuck for ideas. Most of my children are fairly confident with numbers and I'd like them to move on more to using this knowledge to solve problems. I've thought of things like working out how many passengers there are on the bus, if there are any spare seats, how many more passengers we can fit on, perhaps counting in 2s if the passengers are sitting in pairs.. Does this sound about right?



Any suggestions would be greatly received, even if it's not related to transport!

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Yes, how about tickets and money?


Would the bus go if wheels weren't circles?


Using a tape measure to measure knee room allowance between seats

Edited by Cait
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The practitioner thinks of a number and gives clues eg. my number is bigger than 3. Children can also ask

questions to help identify the unknown number.

· Place, for example, 6 balls in a bag, tell the children how many there are then ask them, for example, are there

enough for the children in the red group to have one each? Ask the children how they will find out.

· It is teddy’s fifth birthday – he has invited 5 friends to his party. Can the children set the party table, put the

correct number of candles on the cake, find a numbered card that teddy may have received last year?

· Count, for example, 5 counters into a pot, turn the pot upside down so that some counters are trapped

underneath. How can the children tell you/find out how many counters are hidden?

· Number story word problems (these can be re-enacted/ explained during role play). For example, Bob the Builder

builds 5 houses. Each house needs 1 chimney. He has 3 chimneys – how many more does he need?

· Use everyday routines – are there enough biscuits, chairs, aprons etc for the number of children?

· Make clearing up part of learning – “How can the children arrange the bricks in the trolley to make sure they go

in?” “How many will fit?”

· Stack boxes with the largest at the bottom, or inside one another. Keep a selection of empty boxes and tins for

children to sort things into.

· Give children opportunities to estimate – “Will all the water from the bottle fit into the beaker?” “How many

beakers are needed?” Is the rug big enough for everyone to fit on?” “Is this sheet of wrapping paper large

enough to wrap this present in?”

· When tidying up ask “How many will fit?” eg. boxes on the shelf.

· Estimate number in very large groups. Introduce the names of very large numbers eg. hundreds, thousands,




Programme an electrical toy to reach the door.

· About how many metre rulers do we need to measure the hall floor?

· About how many beads will weigh the same as this teddy bear?

· How many beads will fit in the box? Is there a better way to place them so that we get more in?

· Ask questions such as “How can we measure the room?” “How can we find out how heavy this bear is?”

· “how many jugs of milk will we need for everyone’s drink?”

· At clearing up time ask questions such as “How many bricks will fit in this box?” “What is the best way to put

them in to make sure they fit?”

· Give children the opportunity to estimate eg. “Will all the water from the bottle fit in the cup?” “Will all the

sand fit in this bucket?”

· Stack boxes with the largest at the bottom, or inside one another.

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Wow, lots of ideas, thank you :o I like your idea Cait of asking why the wheels are circles, we could investigate making wheels with other shapes, predicting which would work the best and testing them.


And I'm glad I can use things like tidying up to count towards problem solving. It seems like it's a case of getting into the habit of seeing problems in everyday life in the classroom and getting the children involved in solving them.

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Some psrn problem solving sessions I've had have included these ones which focus on calculating problem solving using the smartboard. the Bob the Builder one was great and led to lots of good explanations of children's reasoning and thought processes. I tried to attach the notebook I made but it didn't work, but it was easy, just a wall of bricks with holes in. The first page had 3 separate individual holes - how many bricks? The next one had one big hole for 6 bricks with 3 rows and 2 columns missing. It went so well that i wished I'd had more pages with different holes, but I wasn't sure how long it would take or how effective it would be. But I had childen saying 'it must be 6 because there are 2 there and 2 there and 2 there', for example, which was really useful in terms of observations.




IWB Bob the Builder’s wall has some holes in! How many bricks will he need to fill the holes? Talk to the person sitting next to you. Share suggestions. How did you work that out? (possible counting in 2s, understanding of shape and space – Connor counting 3 objects).



Show children 5 teddies on a tray - count how many there are. Put a cloth over the teddies and the tray and choose a child to take some teddies away. Keep the remainder covered under the cloth. How many teddies do you think are left under the cloth? Talk to the person sitting next to you. Share suggestions. How did you work this out?

• If we took some teddies away and we’re finding out how many are left, are we adding or taking away?

• Are the numbers going to be getting bigger or smaller?

• Which way along the numberline will we be moving?

• Demonstrate jumping correct number of jumps along the number line.



IWB Toys in toybox powerpoint. How many toys are in the box? How many have we taken away?

• Will there be more or less toys in the box now?

• Will the number in the box be bigger or smaller now?

• Which way along the numberline will we go?

How many will be in the box? How did you work it out?


Hope this is a little help!

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Guest tinkerbell

I have a making table where the parents enjoy sending in their re-cycleble junk.....this is a brilliant way of problem solving.


for transport I would empty a couple of bags of 'junk' boxes,plastic,bottles,cartons ,bottle tops etc and add a few things eg straws,cardboard wheels etc


The children would inveriably make a vehicle and use all sorts of 'developing ...practical problems' from choosing the items they need,measuring,attaching,working out how to move the 'vehicle' etc....they get there own scissors,glue,staplers etc


I just stand back and watch or ask questions which prompt them to solve problems they may have .




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