Tuesday, 12 February 2019

miniMATHS - 5. Shadows

Sorry about the delay of a few days there - we went back to school last week and I have been a bit distracted getting the class into shape..

So here we have possibly the first major deviation in the miniMATHS resource tasks. This task, "Shadows", moves away from activities that have direct mathematical concepts as a focus, such as extending patterns or investigating area, to a place where we are investigating a natural phenomenon, such as shadows, using mathematical skills and knowledge. No longer playing directly with maths - now we are using maths as we play with something bigger.

Shadows are fascinating. There is so much that we can learn by observing them. They are a great leaping off point for exploring time; they are an explicit example of change; we all have that follows us around - and there are lots of games you can play with them.

All of the things that are suggested as activities associated with this task can be investigated using mathematical language. This is a key opportunity to develop our use and understanding of words that describe position, shape, movement and change.

This task is a great way to engage directly with the natural environment in an explicitly mathematical way. We can record changes over time using the outlines of shadows drawn on the ground. We can discuss the position of the light source relative to the object casting the shadow and the shadow itself. 

The EYLF talks about knowledge of and respect for the natural environment. This task will give students a greater understanding and appreciation of what happens in the world in which they live, helping them to be connected with it and to learn respect for it.

Is it "maths by stealth"? Sneaking a bit of maths into a fun exploration of a cool phenomenon? 

Well, I would say no - this is what real maths is: using our skills and knowledge to make sense of the world around us. And hopefully we can start this in early year education with young kids, engaging them as mathematicians to learn more about their world.

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