Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - It's All Pine and Dandy: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - It's All Pine and Dandy: Resources

Article excerpt

Make wreaths, raise money and create young entrepreneurs.

"Wow. This is just like Trade Your Way to the USA." The enthusiasm from Year 3 at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Horsforth, Leeds was tangible as they told me about their maths project to design and make Christmas wreaths.

Perhaps it was because the class had control from the start, choosing Christmas wreaths as a good "product" because "the materials are cheap, while the wreaths are expensive to buy in the shops". They had explored prototypes and decided on circular wreaths made by inserting pine branches into potatoes wrapped in foil, decorated with pine cones, mistletoe and baubles.

They had carried out a questionnaire to find out if people preferred artificial or natural wreaths and how much they would be prepared to pay. They then wrote letters to local businesses, describing the project and asking for support. Pupils followed these up with visits, impressively negotiating huge discounts (coat hangers for 5p instead of 30p, for example).

On the day of my visit they were working in mixed-ability "collaboration groups", each of which had been allocated a task. One was given all the information from the shop visits to calculate the cost of the materials per wreath, with and without the discounts they had negotiated. Another group was taking wreaths to pieces to put together an "ingredients list" and compile a set of instructions for making them. They used the language of geometry, noticing that each branch formed the radius of a circle. …

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