Worms and more

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This unit comprises 5 stations, which involve the students in developing an awareness of the attributes of length and area. The focus is on the development of appropriate measuring language for length and area. 

Achievement Objectives
GM1-1: Order and compare objects or events by length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time by direct comparison and/or counting whole numbers of units.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Compare lengths from the same starting point.
  • Use materials to make a long or short construction.
  • Use materials to compare large and small areas.
Description of Mathematics

Early length experiences must develop an awareness of what length is and develop a vocabulary for discussing length. Young students usually begin by describing the size of objects as big and small. They gradually learn to discriminate in what way an object is big or small, and learn to use more specific terms. Vocabulary such as long, short, wide, close, near, far, deep, shallow, high, low and close, focuses attention on the attribute of length. Early area experiences develop an awareness of what area is, and of the range of words that can be used to discuss it. Awareness of area as the "amount of surface" can be developed by "covering" activities such as wrapping parcels, colouring in, and covering tables with paper. The use of words such as greater, larger and smaller, focus attention on the attribute of area.

The stations may be taken as whole class activities or they may be set up as "centres" for the students to use. Some students will already be aware of the attributes of length and area. For these individuals, the activities in this unit may be useful as maintenance learning.

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 differentiate include:

  • including images on the word cards used in station 2 to support beginning readers
  • using “wrapping” paper with more or less shapes depending on the facility of the students in colouring-in shapes.

The contexts for activities can be adapted to suit the interests and experiences of your students. For example:

  • replace the town scenario in station 2 with, for example, a marae or farm setting
  • replace the heart shapes in station 4 with other symbols or objects that engage your students, for example, koru, dinosaurs or ladybugs.

Te reo Māori vocabulary terms such as noke (worm), roa (long), iti (small), tāroaroa (tall), whānui (wide), poto (short), whāiti (narrow), tata (near) and tawhiti (far) could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical learning.

Required Resource Materials
  • Station 1: Play dough, picture worms to interest the students.
  • Station 2: Blocks, blank cards, toy cars.
  • Station 4: Heart wrapping paper, crayons.
  • Station 5: Moa footprints (big foot, small foot), large sheets of paper, crayons.
  • Copymaster 1
  • Copymaster 2

Station 1: Worms

In this activity we roll play dough to make long and short worms. This could be linked to learning focused on Mini Beasts, native animals, ecosystems, and non-fiction genres of writing (e.g. fact files). Picture books such as Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman,  Wonderful Worms by Linda Glasers, Wiggling worms at work by Wendy Pfeffer and Superworm by Julia Donaldson could be used to engage students in this learning.

  1. Give each student a ball of play dough and ask them to make a worm. Support students with their fine motor skills as necessary. You might model how to make a worm, and record key words such as “roll” and “stretch”.
  2. Get the students to bring their worms to the mat.
  3. Ask the students to describe their worms.
    My worm is long
    My worm is wide
    My worm is tiny
  4. Now ask the students to make a worm that is short.
  5. Look at and discuss the short worms.
    How do you know that your worm is short?
    Is your worm the same as everyone else's? Why?
  6. Ask the students to think of other worms that could be made (long, wiggly, thin)
  7. Choose a word and ask everyone to make a worm that fits the description.
  8. Repeat with other descriptive words and create a word bank that is displayed with illustrations. 
  9. Conclude by asking the students to draw their favourite worm and write a descriptive word for it.

Station Two: Near and Far

In this activity we build a town with blocks and then "drive" our cars around it.

  1. Begin by discussing the buildings that you might find in a town. Write the ideas on blank cards (One for each student or pair of students).
  2. Give a card to each student, or pair of students, and ask them to build the building out of blocks.
  3. Put the buildings together onto the mat (or large sheet of paper with roads drawn) and the building cards into a container.
  4. Give two students a car to "drive" around the town.
  5. Tell the students to stop their cars after a short time.
  6. Draw a card from the container. Ask the students to identify which car is closest to the building drawn.
  7. Give the cars to another two drivers and repeat.
  8. Use different words, for example: furthest, nearest, far away, nearby.
  9. Repeat with other descriptive words and add to the word bank that is displayed with illustrations.

Station Three: Shaping Ourselves

In this activity we make ourselves tall (tāroaroa), short (poto), wide (whānui), narrow (whāiti), close (tata) and far (tawhiti).

  1. Tell the students that we are going to play a game of sizes.
  2. Ask the students to make themselves:

    As tall as they can.
    As short as they can.
    As wide as they can.
    As close to a table as they can be.
    As far from the door as they can be.
    Take up loads of space covering the mat (lie down).

  3. You could extend the activity by asking for volunteers to give instructions for "body sizes".
  4. You could also link to geometry by asking the students to form different shapes with their bodies, for example, circles or triangles. The students could describe the size of their shape.
  5. Repeat with other descriptive words and add to the word bank that is displayed with illustrations.

Station Four: Wrapping Paper

In this activity we follow directions and colour in large and small objects on our "wrapping" paper (Copymaster 1). We then find an object to wrap in our paper.

  1. Give each student a sheet of hearts (or koru patterned) wrapping paper.
  2. Look at and discuss the hearts on the paper.
  3. Ask the students to colour-in the small hearts.
    How did you decide which were small?
  4. Now ask them to colour in the large hearts.
    How did you decide which were large?
    Which took the longest to colour? Why?
    Which were the quickest to colour? Why?
  5. Ask the students to find something to wrap in their paper.
  6. Bring the objects and wrapping paper to the mat.
  7. Check to see if the objects will fit in the paper.
    Whose didn’t?
    Why not?

Station Five: Moa footprints

In this activity we look at some footprints and decide who they could belong to. In our discussion we focus on the use of language associated with area. This could be linked to learning about native and extinct animals, animal tracks, and non-fiction genres of writing (e.g. fact files).

  1. Show the students the "moa" footprint from Copymaster 2.
    Who could this belong to?
    Why do you think that?
    Is your foot as big as the moa? How do you know? How could you check?
  2. Let the students place their feet on top of the moa print.
  3. Ask students to create different "prints", for example: a mouse, a dog, an albatross, a gecko, or find images of different prints online. Support the use of comparative words in their descriptions.
  4. Ask the students to draw a giant’s footprint.
  5. Share and discuss giant footprints in comparison to their own.
  6. Record the words used to compare the prints, collect the descriptive words and add to the word bank that is displayed with illustrations.
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Level One