Biscuits for
bears
Luke and
Zainab (both 45 years)
The children
were having a ‘teddy bears’ picnic’ and
there were some surplus biscuits. Their
teacher Sara asked the children how they
might share the biscuits equally between the
six children.
The
mathematics: counting, division by
sharing, fractions
At first
Zainab (whose example is on the left)
decided to share the six biscuits between
four children. She wrote numbers 1 to 6 and
then drew four circles to represent
biscuits. She drew a line from each number
to a biscuit and had two left over. Zainab
was unsure what to do with the remaining two
biscuits and decided to divide them into
quarters, adding the numerals ‘5’ and ‘6’
(to represent the two remaining children)
and drawing four lines beneath each, to
represent the four quarters of each biscuit.
Although Zainab did not completely solve the
problem, her graphics show how she was
thinking about fractions. Zainab had
reframed the original question, perhaps
thinking that sharing four biscuits between
six children was too difficult, and that
adjusting the question would reduce its
complexity.
Luke
(whose example is on the right) drew one
person to represent the six children, and
then drew four biscuits. He decided he would
divide the biscuits in half (so that each
child could have an equal piece) but then
discovered that there would be one biscuit
remaining. Drawing a circle round this
remaining biscuit, his solution was to put
it in his back pocket (a potentially real
life and meaningful solution)!
It is really important to look closely at
the processes involved in young children’s
thinking rather than focusing too closely on
correct answers. By valuing the children’s
own methods and really listening, teachers
can uncover what the children know.
Taxonomy:
Written
number and quantities: representing
quantities that are counted, numerals as
labels
Calculations – children’s own
methods: counting continuously;
separating sets
Gallery 5:
Beginnings in Play
