Living Maths at Angelicscalliwags

Living Maths

Maths has historically been a huge problem in our house.  With a son who just gets it and two daughters who just don’t I have the humbling experience of coming to the conclusion I am a naff teacher! A year or so ago I took the girls off their curriculum and gave ‘living maths’ a try.  Living maths refers to hands on practical and applicable maths.  The girls did well and enjoyed it.  They lost their fear of maths and for a time it was just the right approach for us.  This post contains all the maths we did during that time.

Choosing the Living Maths Route

Back in the days when I was homeschooling the older ones I made the momentous decision (to me) to stop all maths curriculum with the girls and go right back to the start. I wanted to figure out why they found maths so darned hard. I wrote ‘Dumping the Curriculum for a While‘. It seems many of you were either in the same boat or had decided to take the same route of living maths for your children. This was lovely for me to see because I did not feel quite so alone.

Number Bonds

I decided to start at number bonds. Yes, I agree. We had been doing maths daily for an hour for most of their lives. It was the only curriculum I consistently used. And yet my girls did not understand number bonds?! We started out with M’n’Ms (food is always a winner!) and moved onto blocks. Even Thomas was jealous he didn’t get to do this sort of fun living maths!

Next we looked into the relationship between the number bonds. We used lots of tangible examples and the girls began to understand and visualise maths. It’s funny, I always think pictorially about maths so it surprised me that until now the girls hadn’t. By the end of this lesson, the girls were easily able to transfer their knowledge to the more abstract numerical maths.

The penultimate number bond lesson looked at two step number bond problems. This was eye-opening to me because I could at last see where the panic was coming in. We all learnt a big lesson that day, and it wasn’t just about maths! Finally, I let the girls get their hands on all our maths games in addition to Pascal’s triangle and magic triangles. This was great fun and a pertinent reminder that maths does not need to be arduous!

At the end of all these number bond lessons the girls were beginning to understand ‘the point to maths’! Next, we were moving on to place value.

Place Value

This was such a fun lesson. I had obtained some really great Living Maths books and during this lesson introducing place value I read them aloud to the girls. My goal? To have them answer the question, ‘what is a number?’ As a go along activity and to make sure they fully understood what the answer was to that question, they created their own number and place value system. Oh my goodness! This was such an amazing activity! Even Thomas got involved. Of course, when something works so well, Claire has to push it even further… And I did too! The final lesson in this series was to use an unfamiliar base system that I had created. I called this Claire’s Base 4 Number system. Yes, I know. Very original 😊

Introducing a Maths Informationary

I’d already used our writing informationary to extraordinary effect so decided to try out a maths informationary as well. I decided this might be a good idea because the girls are no longer doing 30 maths questions a day. There is an advantage to doing those 30 questions – you never really have a chance to forget anything! Their absence might make recall a little slower. Enter the maths informationary. This is a folder which grows with the child and will contain all the stuff that their memory would have if repetition was the name of the game. It was game changer for their writing so here’s hoping…

Investigating Quadrilaterals

This first quadrilaterals lesson was when things got really fun! I had the girls make up all sorts of shapes and then give them made up names. I then taught them their proper names. The girls used all sorts of equipment to make both 2D and 3D shapes, including many edible elements! They then took their learning from this lesson and spent the next one trying to figure out the equation for area and perimeter of a quadrilateral

Using Living Maths Along Side History

This last little section includes all the living maths activities we did as go alongs to the children’s history unit studies. This was an amazing way to study maths and added something very special to our history studies. Enjoy!

Maths at the Manor – Percentages and piecharts

Feudalism in the MiddleAges and the Four Alls -Percentages and proportions

Unmuddling Maths – Viking Rune Stones and Probability   Part One

Unmuddling Maths – Viking Rune Stones and Probability   Part Two

Exploring Angles and Triangles Viking Style!

Making an Aged Viking Map – And turning it into a co-ordinate graph

Unmuddling Maths: Co-ordinate Graphs – also finding perimeter and area of irregular shape

For even more maths posts, especially how I did living maths with my little two when they were younger, head over to my Maths Page


  1. I love your math posts! I always thought that living math was a literature based math and that hands on math was, well hands on. It doesn’t matter as I like them both!

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