Greedy Cat

Purpose

In this unit we describe, sort, compare and display pictures of cats.

Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Sort objects into categories for display.
  • Make a display of the data collected (pictograph).
  • Make statements about data displays.
Description of Mathematics

Here we are trying to encourage students to pose questions, sort and display data. These are fundamental skills for statistical investigations and lay the foundation for all further work in the area. Posing questions is, of course, something that is of importance to all areas of mathematics and to many areas of life in general. Like anything else it is a skill that comes with practice. It is sometimes said that being able to ask good questions is more valuable than being able to answer questions. The point here is that if the questions asked are sufficiently insightful they may suggest answers, or at least how the answers may be obtained.

In this unit the students are extensively involved in the sorting and display of the data (cat pictures). Sorting is an excellent way to encourage students to think about important features of data and this leads to classifications that make sense to them. In this unit the students compare the groups formed when the data is sorted by one-to-one matching. This one-to-one matching leads to the development of a pictograph. This provides an opportunity to strengthen the counting strategies of the students as the objects in the data sets are counted and compared.

Required Resource Materials
  • Greedy Cat (Ready to Read)
  • A4 paper for drawing (cut in 8 pieces)
  • Chart paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Crayons
  • "Big Cat" pictures
Activity

Getting Started

We begin the week by sharing the book Greedy Cat.

(For very young students the teacher may need to record a statement about the cat under the picture, for example, "a fluffy cat")

  1. Discuss the pictures in the book. Talk about the things the students notice about Greedy Cat. Emphasise the attributes of Greedy Cat. 
  2. Students talk about their own cat or the cat that they would like to have.
  3. Students draw their cat on their rectangle of paper. (1/8 of the A4)

Exploring

The teacher collects the cat pictures and photocopies these onto A4 sheets. One copy of all the cats will be needed for each pair of students. (Note: If colour is the attribute used you will need to colour the copies of that cat.)

  1. The teacher spreads the original drawings out for the class to see.
    Can you see any cats that are the same? How?
  2. These cats are placed in a pile and given to the child who named the category.
    How many cats are there in the pile? One, two, three...
    As a class, count the number of cats in the pile.
    The question is repeated until all the cats are sorted.
    Use this counting activity as an opportunity to strengthen the number sequences and one-to-one correspondence of the word name with the item, of students who are emergent (stage 0) on the Number Framework. Ask for volunteers to count the objects, asking them to justify their count. Students at stages 1 and 2 will count by pointing to or touching the objects while students at higher stages may use images of the numbers and be able to 'see' that a group is, for example, four, without needing to count the objects.
  3. Repeat the process encouraging the students to be more "creative" in their nomination of categories. Get the students who already have a pile of cats to restate the category that they used so that they don’t forget this category. This reinforces the sorting of data.
    Who do you think has the most cats?
    How do you know? Show me.

    If the students do not use one-to-one matching you may need to model this.
    Students at stage 4 or above may be able to find the difference between the sets by counting-on or back.
  4. Now how do we know who has the most cats?
    Once the categories have been matched 1-1 (in a line) glue the pictures onto chart paper.
    Record statements beside the chart of cats about the number in each category, and some comparisons between categories.

Over the next two days the students will be asked to pose questions about cats and to use the photocopied pictures (data) to find the answers.

  1. Brainstorm possible questions.
    What size cats do we have?
    Are there more striped cats than plain cats?
    Are there more fluffy cats than smooth cats?
    What sorts of tails do cats have?
  2. The pairs select and record the question they want to work on. They then sort and display the cat pictures (1-1 to form a pictograph) to answer their question.
    Repeat this with another question (if time allows).
  3. Conclude the exploration by pinning up the cat displays on the wall to share with everyone (this may include parents or whānau). Each pair selects one of their charts to tell the class about. Question, prompt and support as needed to elicit appropriate oral language including maths language.

Reflecting

Today we look at a set of "big cats" (for instance, lions and tigers) and pose possible questions.

  1. Display photos of cats. Discuss the photos.
    Does anyone know the names of these animals?
    Where might they live?
    Have you ever seen any of these? Where?
  2. After a general discussion focus on the possible questions that could be answered using the photos.
    What kind of things could we find out about "big cats" from these pictures?
    (For example: Are there more spotty cats than stripy cats? Do all cats have bushy tails?)
    List the questions on a chart.
    Leave the questions and the pictures for the students to explore.
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