Minibeast Maths Ideas

As early years practitioners we need to think very carefully about linking real life Maths opportunities across the whole learning environment.

We have used a great book with a minibeast theme. Not only did it include some interesting garden superheroes but it also lent itself to some fantastic maths work.

Centipede’s 100 shoes : Tony Ross

This book is about a little centipede who stubs his toe and so his mother decides to buy him 100 pairs of shoes. The problem is that centipedes only have 42 pairs of legs!

We read the story to the children and also found this clip on Youtube. The children really enjoyed the book and revisited the video over and over again, which we know children love to do, helping them become really familiar with the story structure. How many times we heard ‘Please can we have the centipede story again!’

We found the story lent itself to many maths challenges. Here are just a few of our ideas. We hope you enjoy them.

  1. Use the segments on the centipede to create different number lines e.g. 2’s, 5’s & 10’s starting at different numbers.
  2. Make a bar graph to show how many feet each character has in the book. Who has the most feet? Who will need the most shoes?
  3. Use the children’s own shoes to explore and explain odd and even numbers. Put the shoes in pairs creating two lines e.g. 1,3,5,7,9 /2,4,6,8,10  and use them to explore and explain odd and even numbers.
  4. Provide the children with a series of containers/buckets and objects. Each container should have a number. Ask the children to put in the correct amount of objects. Ask them to then see if they can divide the objects in containers equally into two sets.
  5. Time Challenges – How many shoes can you do up in a time limit? Try different fastenings. Which is the quickest? Which is the slowest?
  6. Sorting Activities – Sort shoes into different types e.g. fastenings/material/shoe types/sizes/mens/womens/children. Can they order them from the smallest to the biggest? How many shoes are the same size? Arrange in patterns e.g. 1 big, 1 small/2 big 1 small/3 black, 1 lace, 2 blue. Put together a jumble of odd socks. Ask the children to find the pairs. Make it into a competition. How many can they find in a given time?
  7. Display 100 shoes (real or pictures) on a washing line so that the children can visualise just how many 100 look like. Explore fractions of a number e.g. half, quarter, three quarters. Explore counting in multiples and times tables by labelling the shoes for a times table to help the children to understand groups of. Challenge your more able children with this activity.
  8. Problem Solving – Create different minibeasts with a different amount of legs e.g. a spider with 20 legs. How many shoes would he have left over out of a given number e.g. 30/50/70. How many shoes would he have left over to share with his friends?
  9. Estimation & Prediction – Create jars/bags with different amounts of objects e.g. cubes, sweets, rice, pasta. Ask the children to estimate/predict if they think there is more or less than 100 in each bag.
  10. Set up a shoe shop in the classroom. Provide mathematical challenges for the children to solve lat the shoe shop e.g. buy enough shoes for 2 spiders and one beetle.

We had a great time challenging and encouraging our children to apply their number skills to help them become budding mathematicians. They particularly enjoyed stretching their mathematical knowledge through problem solving and loved it when we used their own shoes to help with some of the activities!


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