Dear @aimee_gale


Hi there Aimee

In response to your tweet asking for maths investigations around addition and subtraction in Year 3/4, here are a few ideas of mine:


No, I haven’t tried this one out yet, but I came up with the idea for you in the gym this morning. Now, every AFL-loving student knows instinctively how long 50 metres is. So, the challenge is: Find objects in your classroom which can be lined up to make a length of 50 metres. Sounds a bit daunting? Then make it collaborative. After a while the students might tire of measuring items such as pencils and chairs by themselves, so maybe they can ‘trade’ the measurement of items with classmates. This is a pretty big running total to record, so the use of a spreadsheet to create a running total could be good. Sure, the spreadsheet is doing the hard yakka of the addition and subtraction maths – until the final total. To get this exactly at 50 metres, students must estimate, round-off, guess-and-check, to get their precise total.


I used to do this with mini tins of spaghetti in tomato sauce, and used plastic drop-sheets for the operation. Now I stick to plain boiled spaghetti for less mess and more maths. A good group activity, each group receives a big spoonful of cooked spaghetti, measures it all and totals it up to find out who has the most, measured in centimetres.


Create a table which shows the distance between different locations in the school.

Investigate Olympic long-jump records to work out the difference between the lengths jumped each year.

As tall as a giraffe: which students in the class would need to stand on top of each other’s head to be exactly the same height as a giraffe?

Last of all, there is an excellent activity in First Steps Mathematics called ‘Broken Ruler’. Students measure the length of objects with a section of a ruler to really think through their addition and subtraction. In the photo you can see one copied from the First Steps in Mathematics Measurement book.

Photo on 2013-05-18 at 13






Cheers, and thanks for giving me a reason to blog!



One thought on “Dear @aimee_gale

  1. Thank you so much for this post Brette. I love it. I am planning to do some of the activities next week and I’ll let you know how they go!

    Thanks again,


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