Spotting patterns

Number patterns and relationships in mathematics form such a core part of this discipline. Identifying patterns is something that should become second nature to learners already in the early years. From that they learn to extend and later to generalise patterns. The best part of patterns in maths is discovering them and in that also lies the beauty of maths. When mathematical rules are taught without allowing learners themselves to play and discover patterns that emerge, these can deny learners one of the most satisfying and important parts of this subject.

 

Patterns are all around us, in house and street numbers, nature, art and clothing. You can start encouraging your kids from a young age to become more aware  of patterns by encouraging them to explain to you in their own words what they see. For example, this Red-crested Korhaan has what looks like white V’s or arrow-head patterns that repeat themselves on a black background in their feathers. Zebras have a pattern of black and white alternating stripes on their bodies. Butterflies have a variety of different patterns on their wings. And different species of giraffe have different patterns on their bodies.

Ndebele huts in rural Southern Africa are often painted with beautiful repetitions or patterns of shapes that we call tessellations. Patterns (and tessselations) are often found in floor and wall tiles and on fabric used to make clothing, curtains and furniture. Develop a natural feel for number patterns by playing games with your kids that encourage them to complete a pattern that you start. You give five numbers and they need to say what they thing the next five numbers are. The one who gets it right gets to make the new pattern. These are great games for long car trips. A game of hop scotch can also make patterns more active for outdoor play. Older kids can be encouraged to verbalise and describe number patterns in their own words and later to generalise the pattern. This creates a wonderful basis for learning about functions and relations in maths in high school.

Unfortunately our school system seems to focus much more on teaching kids mathematical rules and then giving them practice applying these rules. But maths is about emerging patterns, and conventions developed from those patterns. If we want our learners and kids to enjoy mathematics, let’s encourage a greater emphasis on number patterns and allowing them the space to investigate, spot, feel, describe and generalise patterns. This will create better thinkers and later researchers and problem solvers for our society.

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4 weeks ago

BushMaths

In the Foundation phase the focus is on counting rather than calculating. But as learners progress to the Intermediate Phase, the focus should shift to calculating more efficiently without having to count every object. For example in this photo of the Red Lechwe a learner in Grade 4 should be able to:
a) have some idea of the number of Lechwe by just looking at the photo (a feeling for numbers)
b) be able to make a rather accurate estimate by counting the Lechwe on one side and doubling that amount rather than counting all of them.
c) be able to count in groups of two or more rather than counting single objects
Contact us for more information on developing a feeling for maths early in learners.
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1 month ago

BushMaths

We recently presented our annual maths camp where we hosted our top 15 educators as a reward for their dedication to the capacity building programme for educators.

We spent the weekend at the South African Wildlife College where Dr Hannah Barnes from BushMaths presented workshops on fractions and they also got to go on multiple game drives during their stay.

It was a wonderful weekend and a great way to conclude this year's workshops. We look forward to more successful capacity building next year!

Thank you Sabrina Chielens for the photos.
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1 month ago

BushMaths

What a great weekend with this special group of people. This was our third annual BushMaths camp for Eco Children's Maths Capacity Building programme for Intermediate phase. A mix of maths and bush fun! Thank you Ecochildren for providing the 15 top attending teachers with this weekend at the South African Wildlife College. And thank you to The ukuqonda institute for donating the fractions booklets we used at the camp. ...

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