How Do You Prepare For NAPLAN? Part 4 Maths

Practical mathsAs a subject maths can translate to the real world easily.   Maths is all around us from baking, to catching the train, to doing DIY. Maths is also a visual subject, just by using Lego, counters or small toys like trash packs or shopkins etc the manipulation bring numbers to life.   Maths cannot be taught just by pushing numbers, shapes and coins around a page, they have to be manipulated to experience real maths. Clock hands need to be turned and angles need to be made.  Just by drawing angles or clock hands falls short of the real maths experience every child deserves.


1.Probability – from tossing a coin to rolling dice.  Probability can be practical and fun. Click on the image to download 5 different probability games from Maths Academy.

Probability Games2.Play games  – from Uno to Snakes and Ladders.  Playing real games aids so many skills, from visual perception to counting on and back. Just with some flash cards, a pack of cards or dice there are a whole host of games that can be played which are quick, fun and not overly academic.  There are of course games aimed at the academic market.  If the games rely on to much skill building it isn’t fun and becomes a chore.  Keep games fun, short and exciting.

3.Buy a watch – compare digital time to analogue time.  Ask questions about your own routine e.g. We have to leave for school at 8.15 and it is now 7.45 how long until we leave? If we put a cake in the oven at 2.00 and it takes 20 minutes to bake, what time will it be when it is ready?

4.Look at real bus and train time tables together when you take a trip into the city.  Get your kids to pay with real cash.  Timetable questions are often asked and it can be confusing to work out if you have never used one before.

Read a train timetable5.Spend real cash and discuss the change. Get your kids to put groceries through the self check out and discuss.  The only way to learn about money is to use it and discuss it. Playing shop at home can have real benefits. Why not set up a shop for afternoon tea? As society goes cashless we all use money less and less.  I started a jar of loose coins recently and the kids now all use it for afternoon tea.  Recently we had green juice on offer for 50 cents, fruit kebabs at $1.00 and chocolate cupcakes for 75 cents.

6. Look at real maps.  Recently at Grill’d when waiting for our burgers -everybody was bored in the 2 minutes it had been since we had ordered. So we perused the shopping centre map and discussed –
1.Coordinates of shops
2.Nearest car park to a given shop
3.Nearest toilet
4.Symbols and meaning etc.
We as adults put our trust in the school system however, there are so many things that the school system just cannot do. Of course, the school system teaches coordinates  but normally it is a fictitious map that has no meaning.  Real learning takes place when there is context and your local shopping centre map or map in the bus station does just that as the knowledge they gain from the map then empowers kids to find out about their local area.

using a map in Perth City Centre7. Shape walk –Go on a shape walk to find 2d and 3d shapes in your area.  Once your kids are familiar with the usual 2d and 3d shapes introduce them to irregular shapes as NAPLAN has a tendency to throw in a weird looking 8 sided shape and asks kids which box it would fit in and if your child thinks an octagon always has to look like this  octagonthey might be surprised.  Check out Math-Salamanders for lots of information on shapes. 

8. Search out angles in your environment and then make them with popsicle sticks or tape.

door protractorWe just love this door protractor from We Are Teachers.

anglesCreating angles with tape across desks is a rather wonderful way to practically use and understand angles, A great photo from high heels and number 2 pencils blog.

Recently, we made some quick popsicle stick angle arms to create angles practically instead of with a ruler, pencil and paper.  So easy with just some velcro or blue tac. That’s not to say pencil and paper is wrong -it is not! Starting practically though will aid the development of the visual nature of geometry.

popstick angles9. Build with lego and then look at your model from all sides. It is amazing how different structures look from the top in comparison to the side and bottom for example.
On the Parenting Science site Gwen Dewar has a great article about how Lego bricks and other construction toys boost STEM skills.  Click on the link here

10. Cook and bake together- time spent together in the kitchen baking or preparing a meal is time well spent.  There are a whole host of maths and literacy skills involved in baking a cake or a batch of cookies.  Bake some simple treats and use the recipes that are tried and tested in our baking post.

baking-blog-post-coverEnjoy time together and above all, please remember that it is a government sponsored test designed to test the school not the individual student.  The dots on the page are for the school to analyse and for My School to crunch into green or red bars. Your children are just part of the process.  Here is our checklist to ensure a relaxed outcome.

Before the test

1. Check your child is familiar with the format of the test, knows what to expect and understands how to answer the questions.

2. Don’t expect a perfect score.

3. It is just another day in May, we always use the jingle,

Be your best self,
Take a deep breath,
Count to ten,
Go with the flow,
Show what you know!

Whenever anybody is feeling anxious about anything, be it first day of school, an activity they are not sure of, I can’t sleep etc.  It always works for us especially the last line.  We talk about how many skills they have acquired and how they are to use the skills to best effect!

After each test

Congratulate your child on their efforts each day they do a test and reinforce it is effort and the long game that counts.  Nobody got into a prestigious university or earned a million off their NAPLAN scores in primary school!

When the results are in

Have a positive pep talk before the envelope is opened. NAPLAN is just a snapshot of what children can do one day in May – and not a lot else.  Another day…another score!

We have to change our view of education to one of the long game.  Education is a journey and not a destination- That was Mary Harris- Jones not me!

Happy learning across the years xx

And on a final note…just love this TED talk from Peter Hutton from Templestowe College in Melbourne.  School can definitely feel like you are on a bus!  What are your thoughts?

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