Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Primary Math DPA (Daily Physical Activity): Count and Dance! December 18, 2012

Filed under: General Math,Parents,Primary Math Ideas & Problems — Focus on Math @ 11:33 am

Here in the North we often have very cold temperatures that keep students inside during recess and lunch breaks, sometimes for weeks at a time. Needless to say, all of the students get restless from many consecutive “inside days”, but the effect is especially noticeable in the primary classrooms. Those wee ones can get pretty “antsy” from all of their pent up energy. Added to that is the requirement here in BC for 30 minutes of Daily Physical Activity (DPA). One solution: count and dance!

I was recently in a grade 1 classroom where the teacher, Trina, had her students burning off some of that excess energy as they danced with abandonment during several counting songs.
She used YouTube videos (produced by Have Fun Teaching) that combined movement with counting. Trina did not even have a system where the students were actually watching the video (she used her classroom computer but there was no large screen for the students to watch). The children mainly listened the audio and watched Trina model some dancing!

She told me that the children move so much during the songs that after only a few songs the students are sweating with the exertion! And, of course, along they way they are learning to count.

The two songs I watched were these:

Counting Down from Twenty Song

The Counting By Twos Song

I hope you get your students grooving to a math song!
Mathematically yours,


Quick Draw: Activities for Developing Spatial Skills December 11, 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 10.27.29 AMVisualization is one of the seven mathematical processes tied to the BC K-12 mathematics curricula, as well as the Western Northern Canadian Protocol (WNCP) mathematics documents. Visualization is a critical component of solving mathematical problems, and students need the opportunity to develop such visual skills. Students in a mathematics program that is mainly procedural often do not develop their capacity to form mental images, thus limiting their problem-solving ability.

Grayson Wheatley, formerly of Florida State University and Purdue University, feels strongly about mental imagery in math. He believes that “All meaningful mathematics learning is imaged-based.” His book Quick Draw provides teachers with short activities to engage students in mental imagery, thus helping to improve their spatial sense.

In Wheatley’s activities, a figure such as the one displayed in the corner is shown briefly to students. They are then asked to draw what they saw. It is shown again briefly, and students are asked to make any changes or additions they feel they need to make. After this, the image is revealed to the class and students are asked to describe what they saw. Some will have seen a two-dimensional image while others will have seen a three-dimensional image. There are often differences between images seen in the same number of dimensions. It is not uncommon to have five or six different descriptions of the drawing. There are no wrong answers here, just differences in perspective.

This link will take you to a page where you can watch Wheatley lead a class of grade 8 students in a Quick Draw activity using the sketch displayed on this page (the sketch he is using is hard to see in the video, so it is helpful to know in advance which one students are looking at.)

Download a page with two of his figures for Quick Draw here.


Quick Draw is available in hard copy or as a digital file from

I hope you will give these activities a try. They are great warm-up activities!
Mathematically yours,