Allotment Maths

See the NCETM website

After months of planning I eventually succeeded in creating an allotment in the grounds of St Joseph’s primary school. As Yr 6 teacher & Numeracy Coordinator I wanted to make concrete links for children between numeracy skills & the outdoor environment.

Previous to starting the project the children

  • Investigated the dimensions of the allotment boxes by measuring the depth, width & length.
  • Calculated the perimeter and area of one box.
  • Estimated how many of a particular vegetable they would be able to grow in one allotment box.
  • Made calculations for 2 boxes, 4 boxes, 6 boxes etc by multiplying original calculation.

1st November 2007 – Lesson 1

This involved:

  • Pupils investigating the size & type of various vegetables suitable for growing in our allotment
  • Using strategies to calculate the amount of space each type of vegetable would take in the allotment

View the video ‘Allotment Project – Part 1’

It was very interesting observing the various types of strategies pupils used to measure amount of space vegetable would take up. For most it was the first time they had ever used 3D objects in this context & some made the error of measuring the length of the vegetable as opposed to the largest slice of area.

View the video ‘Reflections after the lesson’

We were also surprised at how many pupils were unable to name the various vegetables. This made us think of possible future lesson developments:

  • To investigate diets of the children in the class, looking particularly at their vegetable intake. Linking this to maths through recording and analysis of the data collected from home surveys. This project would also have many other cross-curricula links.

15th November 2007 – Lesson 2

This involved:-

  • Using plans which they had produced previous to lesson showing patterns of vegetables which would produce the greatest yield pupils worked in groups setting out life-size templates onto the allotment
  • Recorded patterns
  • Predicted & calculated total cost of crop

View the video ‘Allotment Project – Part 2’Evaluation
Children demonstrated their team work skills as they verbalised their ideas for a pattern & negotiated the final pattern with their peers. It was an effective activity in which children were able to use their skills of estimating and then checking their estimate using calculators in a ‘real life’ context. Profit and loss calculations around maximum crop yield fascinated the children, creating some fantastic mathematical patterns.

Does maximum crop yield have links to symmetrical planting? What do you think?

After the activity pupils were able to state what the found easy/difficult & what they would do differently if they repeated the activity.

View the video ‘Back in the Classroom’

In conclusion, I feel the project met my objectives for the children as definite but also meaningful links between maths & the outdoors were made for the children.  They applied various mathematical skills in a ‘real life’ exercise.

View the video ‘Summing Up’

The experience of this project has made me think about the way I teach other maths topics, as I have seen such a positive affect on the children’s maths achievement. As a school we have built upon these experiences and intend to extend the idea of ‘doing maths outdoors’.

Val Douglass
St Joseph’s Primary School

Published by makingpi

Our interest is to create a brilliant practical applied maths programme for teaching students who struggle with engaging in Maths. Our interests range from building bridges to making beautiful silver objects.

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