# rationale for a maths activity using 3D shapes

Samina Ansar BA (hons) with QTS

Year 1 semester 2

INTRODUCTION

In the first year of QTS, for my placement I was allocated a place in a multi- cultural school, in a year 5 class. Having been in this class for a few months, I was now familiar with the class routines, the teaching staff and the children. I was also aware that at the end of the year the children will be taking their mini or otherwise known as their practice SATS. The children were knowledgably secure in all subjects, but I did notice that there are some children within this class who still find it difficult o understand the concepts of different shapes, for example the idea associated with 3-D shapes was more difficult for children to experience and understand than 2-D shapes as they are properties of a shape having a third dimension. (Frobisher et al.2007, p.109).

According to Pierre and Dina van Hiele-geldof cited in Haylock (2006, p.290)

‘Children can name and recognise shapes, by their appearance, but cannot specially identify properties of shapes or use characteristic of shape for recognition and sorting’

Taking this into consideration, I tried to think of something that could be used to increase the children’s knowledge and awareness, but at the same time also be a lesson that the children will enjoy and remember in the future.

RATIONAL

I wanted to help the children to do well in their SATs and also understand the different names of the 3-D shapes and their properties. In mathematics the level descriptor for attainment target 3; Shape, space and measure also state that pupils should be able to:

‘Use mathematical names for common 3d shapes and describe their properties, including number of sides (DFEE 2000 p.13).

To help me plan a suitable activity, I started to read around the subject of children’s understanding of mathematical concepts, especially shapes.

Three of the most influential theorists of children’s mathematical thinking and learning are Vygotysky, Bruner and Piaget. Vygotsky work can assist us in our understanding of some of the ways in which children process their understanding of mathematical thinking in everyday situations and later on in life. He states that children learn in different stages, firstly they start to learn by using loose criteria such as colour or sound, then the child moves on to use more scientific mathematical concepts such as the number of sides a shape has. Vygotsky’s work suggests that children learn movement of understanding by being given the opportunity to experience and make sense of something. This suggests that learning is not always predictable (Eysenck, M. 2000, pp.409-426).

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Vygotsky’s work also emphasised the importance of group work and the influence the child’s social environment can have on their learning. An important contribution his work can make in the field of maths is his support for the idea of group work, something which is not seen as much in any other subject besides maths. Vygotsky said:

‘What a child can do in co-operation today, he will be able to do alone tomorrow’. (Eysenck, M. 2000, pp 409 -426).

According to another learning theorist Bruner, children are born with a ‘Tabula Rasa’, which is a blank ...