Recently, Year five have been involved in practical maths lessons using a resouce called Cusinaire Rods. These wondefully adaptable, brightly coloured wooden sticks can be used to explaore a multitude of mathematical areas but year five have been specifically focussed on investigating fractions.
One of the key ideas when using the rods is to ensure that you are opened minded as to their value. For example, the largest rod does not have to be equal to one, it could be ten, one hundred or any other number that you choose!
The first step of using the rods is to see what you can do with them. With very little guidance the children were able to ascertain how many of one colour would fit into another colour. This encourages them to understand that the whole can be broken down into parts (fractions).
This then leads to further investigation into fractions by assigning a value to one of the rods and then working out what value a fraction of said rod would be worth. The point of the exercise is not to complete sheets or have a set target for the amount of fractions investigated but simply to see what you could find out. The children were encouraged to record their findings to share and dicuss with the rest of the class.
The findings were clear to see and so far, there has been a greater understanding of fractions during standard maths lessons due to the use of the the Cusinaire rods and the children definelty enjoyed having the freedom to investigate!