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Catholic Education South Australia

Inquiry Question

How can we explore measurement and geometric reasoning through the theme of Christmas?


Christmas Boxes

This NRICH task asks students to find all the ways to arrange a 'net' of six squares that can be folded into a cube.

Link: NRICH Christmas Boxes

More Christmas Boxes

An NRICH task that gives students opportunities to further their understanding of volume and the factors which affect size. It would be good, after introducing the challenge, to encourage students to cut out squared paper to help with the exploration. Extension: What happens to the volume when we cut a square 1.5 by 1.5 from each corner? Suppose the 10 by 10 sheet had two smaller sheets cut from it? What would the total volume of the two boxes be?

Link: NRICH More Christmas Boxes

Christmas Colours

This Complete Mathematics task is abstract, and a knowledge of nets and elevations will be an advantage. Students should also know the cuboid has 6 faces and they should know the terms faces, edges and corners (vertices). It may help them to see the problem better if they draw out the net of a cuboid (the simplest would be a cube).

Link: Complete Mathematics - Christmas Colours

Constructing Christmas Trees

This My Maths task encourages students to explore measurement and angles within triangles to make different types of Christmas trees. Students will require a ruler and protractor to engage with this task.

Link: My Maths - Constructing Christmas Trees

Advice for Teachers

When teaching measurement concepts ensure students can distinguish between going about the measuring process and conceptually understanding what they are doing when they measure. When students are exploring concepts of measurement encourage them to:

  • Make comparisons
  • Use models of units
  • Make and use measuring instruments
  • Move from informal to standard units
  • Estimate and approximate

Adapted from: Van de Walle. J and Lovin.L, Teaching Student Centred Mathematics, 2006.

Considerations and strategies for EAL Learners

Metric units use common morphemes to make new words (for example ‘cent’, ‘kilo’). These morphemes play an important role in helping to comprehend words and spell them. Morphological knowledge is crucial for EAL/D students, as it allows them to efficiently expand their vocabulary, through building word families.  Unpack the meaning of words (for example centi = 100, metre = to count; kilo = 1000, kilometre, kilogram, kilowatt).

The language of comparison in English includes the use of the comparative adjective forms. These include: adding ‘–er’ to one– or two–syllable adjectives – ‘This square is smaller’, using ‘more’ for adjectives with more than two syllables – ‘The circle is more difficult to split’, and adding ‘the’ and ‘–est’ to form the superlative – ‘This rectangle is the biggest.’ Explain different forms of comparative adjectives in the context of student learning. Build lists of comparative and superlative forms, with the words in context.