Greedy Cat

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In this unit we explore ways to pose and answer investigative questions about cats by gathering and analysing data and discussing the results.

Achievement Objectives
S1-1: Conduct investigations using the statistical enquiry cycle: posing and answering questions; gathering, sorting and counting, and displaying category data; discussing the results.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Pose investigative questions with support from the teacher.
  • With the teacher, decide on how to collect the data to answer the investigative question.
  • Sort objects into categories for display.
  • Make a display of the data collected (pictograph).
  • Make statements about data displays.
Description of Mathematics

In this unit, students pose investigative questions with the teacher, then gather, sort, display and discuss data. This data is then used to answer the investigative questions. These skills are foundational to statistical investigations. In particular, posing investigative questions is fundamental to a good statistical investigation. At Level 1 the investigative question is driven by the teacher who models good structure without being explicit about the structure. 

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. In turn, this provides an opportunity to strengthen the counting strategies of the students as the objects in the data sets are counted and compared.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to support students include:

  • reducing the number of cat pictures in the data set for students who are beginning to count one-to-one when they are doing individual or small group work
  • extending the data to include counts of the number of cats (dogs, pets) students have. 

The context for this unit can be adapted to suit the interests and experiences of your students. For example:

  • looking at another type of pet e.g. dogs, fish, native animals
  • adapting the context to focus on other items that could form a categorical data set (i.e. the items are able to be counted as individual items). The key learning in this unit is posing investigative questions, and gathering, sorting, displaying and discussing data that is generated as a result of using the investigative questions. Therefore, when adapting the context of this learning, you should consider what items (i.e. data set) might reflect the cultural diversity and current interests of your class. 

Consider how the text Greedy Cat, and the relevant learning done in this unit, can be integrated in your literacy instruction. If choosing to focus the unit of learning around a different set of categorical data, consider finding a relevant picture book to engage your students in the context.

Te reo Māori vocabulary terms such as ngeru (cat), kuri (dog), and ika (fish) as well as counting in te reo Māori could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical and classroom learning.

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

Getting Started

Begin the week by sharing the book Greedy Cat. If you do not have the book, a copy or a video is available online.

(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 (ngeru) or the pet or cat that they would like to have.
  3. Students draw a cat on their rectangle of paper (1/8 of the A4).


Collect 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 copy the cats).

  1. Explain that we are going to investigate "What are the types of cats the students in our class have or would like to have? (this is the investigative question).
    In our last session we drew pictures of cats. We will use these pictures to collect information (data). What information do you think we could collect from looking at these cards? Record students' ideas somewhere visible. 
  2. The teacher spreads the original drawings out for the class to see.
    Can you see any cats that are the same or similar? How?  
    What cats are different? How?
  3. 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... tahi, rua, toru .....
    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 with, 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 might 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. Discuss the different counting strategies demonstrated by students.
  4. 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.
  5. How can we tell who has the most cats?
    Once the categories have been matched 1-1 (in a line) attach the pictures onto a chart.
    Record statements beside the chart of cats about the number in each category, and some comparisons between categories.

Over the next two days work with the students to develop investigative questions about cats and to use the photocopied pictures (data) to find the answers.

  1. Brainstorm possible areas we could explore and develop investigative questions.
    What size cats do we have?
    What types of coats do our cats have?
    What sorts of tails do our cats have?
  2. The pairs select and record the investigative question they want to work on. They then sort and display the cat pictures (1-1 to form a pictograph) to answer their investigative question.
    Repeat this with another investigative 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 and whānau). Each pair selects one of their displays to tell the class about. Question, prompt and support as needed to elicit appropriate oral language including statistical language.


Today we look at a set of "big cats" (for instance, lions and tigers) and pose possible investigative questions. Other animals could be used here depending on the interests and experiences of the children.

  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 areas of interest that could be answered explored using the photos.
    What kind of things could we find out about "big cats" from these pictures?
    (For example: patterns on their coat, types of tails Are there more spotty cats than stripey cats? Do all cats have bushy tails?)
  3. Develop investigative questions together and list the questions on a chart. E.g. What are the patterns on the coats of the big cats?
  4. Leave the investigative questions and the pictures for the students to explore.
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Level One