Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

# Maths - Unravelling the Problem: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

# Maths - Unravelling the Problem: Resources

## Article excerpt

Little Bo Peep experiences a woolly dilemma with fractions.

Little Bo Peep's business was booming. Sheep were in demand and, when it came to shepherdesses, there was none finer. She had been successful enough to build up a vast flock of sheep. This gave her a headache: how to count them? She had tried putting 1, 2, 3, 4 ... on the side of each sheep in turn. After a long time, during which she had become incredibly quick at painting a number on the flank of a sheep, she had managed to number them all.

This did not, however, completely solve her problem. "Little Bo Peep," said an exasperated local farmer. "We also paint 1, 2, 3, 4 ... on the sides of our sheep. How can we tell yours and ours apart?" Little Bo Peep's forehead creased as she grappled with this conundrum. Then it came to her in a flash: "I'll paint fractions on the sides of my sheep!"

The next morning she set to work. "Every sheep must have a fraction - and every fraction must correspond to a sheep," she thought. "And I will count 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 as the same fraction - equivalent fractions must only occur once, in their simplest form!" she cried. "In addition, I must be able to put my sheep in order."

Immediately, she was struck by a dilemma: would she try to arrange her sheep in order of size? …

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