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* Calculations with larger numbers


In this class of 4-5 year-olds (in a mixed nursery and reception class) , the teacher had been reading 'One is a snail, Ten is a crab' (Pulley Sayre & Sayre, 2004), to support the children's counting up to 100. She

suggested that the children choose their own number, and work out which combination of creature's legs would total their number.

    Roxy decided on '67', explaining "it's a big

number, so I'll do crabs because they have the

most legs. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. That's four

crabs." Drawing two more crabs she again counted

in tens. Explaining that she needed seven more

she drew three people, finally adding a snail,

writing her calculation in words at the foot of the page.



Trees explained that he was going to work

out 800, after a while explaining he had four

crabs and four snails: "That's not the eight

hundred! Need loads more so I think I'll do more crabs 'cos they've got the most legs." Adding addition crabs and snails he counted to 104. Pausing, he decided, "I don't think I'm going to

do any more because it's too big. I need six more so I can do six snails, or a dog and two snails, or three people -but I'm just going do a fly because it has six legs."

    The teacher described the children's graphical responses as "a real eye-opener", their  self-challenges and problem solving as "remarkable!"


Chang's class were going on a residential trip,

and their teacher had bought some nectarines. 

She invited the children to work out how many packs (with three in each pack) she would need

to buy so that 26 children could have one each. Chang (7 years 1 month) responded by counting

in threes and noting that there would be one nectarine left over. 

Harriet (7 years, 4 months) tackled the same problem, drawing 'packs' with three children in

each, and crossing out the surplus person in the

last pack, then writing '9' beneath. Earlier she

had drawn another pack but realising she did

not need it, had crossed it out. Self-checking

indicates reflection and efficient levels of thinking.