Tag Archives: dyson challenge cards

Maths in context

Forget the advice not to work with children or animals.  When undertaking a maths task, my advice is not to work with children and food.  Not when you are using the food to actually work!  Here’s some maths from a few weeks ago:

square based pyramid
square based pyramid








triangle based pyramid
triangle based pyramid








little brother returns from Nursery!
little brother returns from Nursery!







Don’t eat your work!  It could collapse!  This work was based upon some research into the seven wonders of the world following on from learning about The Great Wall of China.  The inspiration came from the fantastic Dyson Challenge cards we have.  Great mathematical and design learning came from this, along with some very fiddly marshmallow co-ordinating to attempt a geodesic dome…








To move from the concrete to abstract, we have used this practical work to learn how to accurately draw a pyramid as well as other 3D shapes.  A protractor is on order to reinforce the angles that we have been talking about, along with a compass.  Feels very grown up, I remember getting my first geometry set for the start of secondary!

Harry Potter Week

Harry Potter Week didn’t really start out as Harry Potter week.  Until Wednesday I had never even seen any Harry Potter films and yet somehow most of the week here at missmummy has been all about the wizardry!

We started as planned.  We made our lava lamp as per our list of science challenges to explore.  This was very exciting, leading to gasps of “wow” as the mixture fizzed. Once the the mixture had been made he wired up a bulb to provide the light.  My little guest blogger has returned and below you can read how to make this yourself at home, take heed of his warning at the end:


You will need : an empty water bottle,

Vegetable oil,


Food colouring,

Alka seltzer tablet


First fill the bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil, then top it off with water and about 10 drops of food colouring (or enough to make the solution appear fairly dark).      

Next, cut an alka seltzer tablet in to pieces, put it in to the bottle, put the cap on and tip back and forth.  The oil dos not mix with water what do you think will happen…     

Finally, put a strong light underneath.                   


DON’T use a bulb thru 4 batteries   



our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards
our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards

More ‘inventing’ has been happening in a very ad hoc way.  I daren’t let on that most of these things have in fact already been invented.  It’s wonderful to watch him trying out his ideas on the circuit board and evaluate his findings.  He now knows, from above, that if you have too much power running to a small bulb it will blow and is so confident in his new skills that when I explained we needed to put a new battery in the doorbell he asked if I want him to fix it by checking the circuit!

The week’s learning changed direction dramatically after a Harry Potter themed day at our HE group and then at Beavers the same evening.  You guessed it… The dressing up excuse.  C only remembered at tea time that he was allowed to dress up at Beavers and so began frantically researching costume ideas.  I was quietly impressed by his googling skills as he thought to type in ‘Harry Potter home made costumes’ as his search.  A fun evening enjoyed at Beavers subsequently led to his being dressed up for the remainder of the week.  Should I admit that I am writing this on Thursday night and he still has his lightning scar? Should I admit that my son washes his face day and night, baths every night and has managed to actually wash around this patch on his forehead?  We sat and watched the first film on Wednesday evening which inspired me, not to dress up but to create some maths learning around Hogwarts house points and spells.

Last week I had identified a need to recap finding the difference as a method for subtraction.  This one is often tricky, but necessary, for younger children to visualise what it is they are doing when subtracting by working out the difference between 2 numbers.  C keeps telling me he “doesn’t like maths” and so I am trying to think more creatively about IMG_7047how we teach it; my solution for this was to incorporate ‘finding the difference’ into some play with the Scaletrix.  We  had timed races and when the timer was up, calculated how many laps we had each done by recording along a blank number line.  This enabled him to draw out the jumps, for example from 32 (no. of laps left) to 45 (the total no. of laps on the dial).  Our Scaletrix dials countdown from 45 so you can easily see how many laps are remaining:  It’s not so easy to see how many you have completed.  To follow on from this the next day, I stuck up some envelopes containing house points for the Hogwarts houses.  With these he had to work out the differences between the different houses and the winners.  We started together, with me modelling how Dumbledore would have mentally calculated how many more points were needed to put Gryffindor into the lead and then I left him to do a few more calculations independently.  This has all served to be successful scaffolding.  We started practically, followed up on paper with support and then gradually took away the support.  He’s got it!  And very pleased he is with himself too!

IMG_7051  IMG_7058

Upon leaving for Nursery one day this week we discovered a letter on the mat from Dumbledore himself, giving ideas for us muggles to make potions. IMG_7062 Once the letter was read and digested we set about, the three of us, creating some pretty disgusting tasting potions (recording and adding up the quantities as we went along).  The boys are convinced they made it snow with these as sudden snowstorm began while they syringed and mixed apple juice, lemonade and milk, yuk!  And of course, our crazy L loved it – drinking a fair bit until I insisted he stop before he was sick!


I have been so lucky with our HE community here.  Our lovely group organiser set up an online HP quiz for us all to take part in.  C has thoroughly enjoyed re calling his (limited) HP knowledge from his one film viewing and attempted all 6 rounds with very little help from me.  So good multi media comprehension there from him.   Some amusing, some random guesses, Professor Spinach instead of Sprout was my favourite I think.

To end this week, here he is sketching a portrait of Harry Potter, obsessed?   Who him?!


harry potter maths download