Sunday, 11 December 2011

6 Circle Time Games

We recently answered a tweet asking for circle time games. Below is the response we gave. These are just 6 out of many ideas for games to use in circle time. You may have used some of these and hopefully some of them are new. Please feel free to comment below to add any other ideas you have of your own. An internet search will also provide a plethora of ideas!

Idea 1: The Parrot Parade

Give each child a colour: red, blue, green, red. Then read out a made up story about children making a parrot made of those colours to go on a float at a carnival. The story describes the making of the parrot and then the parading of it. Describing all its colours at every opportunity. When the children hear their colour they stand up, turn around and sit back down. They enjoy it especially if their colours come up a lot consecutively!

Idea 2: Lifeboats

The children all start sat down and then have to stand up one at a time with out communicating with each other. The aim is to get all standing up, but if two stand up at once they all sit back down.

Idea 3: Pass the Squeeze

Start of end the session with pass the squeeze. A handshake with a squeeze.

Idea 4: Hello

Person A says hello to person B, person B then replies hello, person A then says tell person C, person B then says hello to person C, person C says hello, person B says tell person D... and so on... (A nice way to start can also be used at the end with good-bye).

Idea 5: Fizz Buzz

When the person starts, they start by saying 1. The next person must then say the next number, and so on. People take their turn by saying the next number in sequence. If the number is divisible by 5, the person doesn't say the number, instead, they say "Fizz!". Similarly, if the number is divisible by 7, they must say "Buzz!". These fizzes and buzzes combine together - for example, instead of 35, I would say "Fizz, buzz!", because is divisible by 5, and is divisible by 7.

This example of using multiples of 5 and 7 could be changed to other numbers.

Idea 6: Pass the Hoop

All hold hands; pass a plastic hoop through everyone around the circle.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Kung Fu Maths II

Part one of this blog gives ideas for using physical hand movements to replace mathematical symbols and how this can be used for introducing mathematical vocabulary. In this blog entry, we will look at how else this strategy might be used. 

For example, in pairs, children can test each others mathematical knowledge and then link this to inverse operations.
  • Child A comes up with a calculation (4x12=);
  • Child B then says the answer and creates the inverse operation with their own symbols(48/12=);
  • Child A then says the answer(4). 
This game both gets children to practise speed of their mental answers and allows the teacher to check the understanding of inverse operation. In the classroom, this can often get competitive and chldren like making the maths quicker and quicker.

Another option for advanced users is to introduce the bracket (one arm pointing up and one down) into the mix and move into groups using a combination of symbols and whiteboards with numbers on. Teachers can instroduce equations with brackets in different places to show how they impact on the equation.

As a strategy, Kung Fu Maths gives teachers the opportunity to introduce practical elements to the maths currciulum.Getting children out of their seats doing physical movements which reinforces concepts for many children and, as importantly, is fun.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Class Timer

Christmas is here. And so is the associated mess of Christmas decoration and card making. Glitter embedded so deep into the carpet that it will still be shining in July, glue on seats and tiny, tiny pieces of cut up card in every nook and cranny.
However, we have a ‘willing’ volunteer force to help with the mess. The children made it so they can sort it. An excellent tool for helping with this can be found at in the form of their Countdown timer. The default setting is a timer for 30 seconds and the music from Countdown. For those ingrained messes though I recommend the 5 minute, Indiana Jones music.
Image credit: Russel Tarr -
The children love the mixture of recognisable music and visual stimulus and it certainly gets them going on the jobs that need doing. There is even sedate, calm classical for use in normal lesson time.
My favourite? Hawaii 5-O at 57 seconds.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Participation is Key

A key aspect of the usefulness of technology in the classroom is how it can motivate children in their learning. As the proverb goes: You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. Getting children engaged in lessons is a key skill for teachers in today’s classroom.

Many homes are full of technology and children will happily make use of this for sustained periods. Video games, computers and mobile handsets are used by children to socialise, share and educate each other. Schools need to be making use of these tools in order to encourage participation.

When we made ringtones in our classes, we offered children the opportunity to bring their phones into school in order to make it real. We use ‘Brain Training’ games on the PSP to encourage mental maths skills and we use iPods to deliver teaching through video and podcasts.

However, technology cannot be the sole tool for encouraging participation. Dylan Wiliam recently exhibited some key strategies in his BBC programme, ‘The Classroom Experiment’. In a range of secondary classrooms, he showed how tools such as coloured cups, whiteboards and lollipop sticks could encourage those children who felt disengaged by school to participate in lessons through discouraging the use of ‘hands up’.

At our school, we looked in detail at the use of these techniques. We are always looking at better ways of engaging our children in order to maximise the quality of the learning. Firstly, cups. Some of us dreaded the prospect of crinkly, noisy, distracting cups so we made discs out of laminated card. Green means - I know what is happening. Orange means - slow down I am unsure of what is going on. Red means – Stop, I don’t know what is going on. To keep the use of these in the children’s minds we have a picture of the three discs on most pages of our lesson presentations. Most of the time the children have the discs on green and, when needed, they are able to move it to red to ask questions.

Every class has lollipops with children’s names on. Whenever we need to ask children to participate in lessons, we pull out a stick. Sometimes, we catch the children who know the answer, other times we catch children who are unsure. This gives us a far better picture of how well a lesson is going as well as ensuring children know that they need to keep up with the lesson as their name might get pulled out. For those of you who love a gadget, Smart Notebook and both offer funky alternatives in the form of random name pickers and a fruit machine Flash tool.

These techniques have equipped us to better engage children in lessons. Discs and lollipop sticks mean that we can get immediate and valuable feedback about how lessons are going, leading to lessons which are much more effective for children.

Google Earth in Maths

I have used Google Earth a number of times in maths lessons. It has mostly been to make use of the 'ruler' tool and provide real life links to the lesson.

The first use I've found for the ruler tool is for providing real life links to calculating area and perimeter. The ruler too can be used to measure the dimensions of the school playground, a football pitch (see below), a child's garden, the courtyard of Buckingham palace or even The Pentagon, anywhere really! This can be either as a whole class on an interactive display, with everyone calculating areas and perimeters based on the measurements taken or as individuals taking measurements on computers or hand held devices. As the ruler tool measures accurately it offers an opportunity to discuss rounding. Also, if calculating the area and perimeter of part of your school the activity can be carried out virtually on Google Earth and then in 'reality' by going out with trundle wheels and then comparing the two.

The other time I have used the ruler tool is when converting lengths. I've usually done this converting between centimetres, meters and kilometres, but it can also be used to practise converting metric to imperial or vice versa. The example below shows how the length of one side of the Pentagon can be measured and then converted into various different units of measure. The original measurement was taken in meters. I'd then ask the children to convert this to centimetres, kilometres or feet, inches etc., if covering converting to imperial measurements. Once the children have their answers one click of the button can quickly show them the measurement they should have arrived at. The measurement of 'Smoots' always causes some amusement and a good teaching point about less well known units of measure for length.

These are just some ideas I've made use of for using Google Earth in maths lessons. If you have some ideas of your own I'd love to have some comments below.



Images all credited to 'Google Earth':