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Year 4 Tackle Maths Puzzles Using Trial & Improvement

Posted: 2nd October 2014 | Category: Year 4

Something for you to try...

1.       Queen Esmerelda’s coins
Queen Esmerelda had 20 coins. She put them into 4 piles:

How many gold coins did Esmerelda put in each pile?
2.       Maisie the mouse
Maisie had between 30 and 50 breadcrumbs:

How many breadcrumbs did Maisie have?
How did you get on?

As part of our Maths scheme this term, the children in Year 4 are tackling puzzles using the method of Trial and Improvement. It is okay for the pupils to get the wrong answer to begin with but what is important is that they use their mistakes to work towards a solution.

Some children find this quite a difficult thing to begin with but with help and encouragement they start to see where their tries are heading. There is nothing like watching a child start to realise that there is a solution round the corner and the ‘Yes!’ that goes with the final answer is very satisfying. If it were a cartoon, there would be a light bulb! After a few successes they start to think in a more open ended way, asking questions, saying “What if...”,  “Let’s try...” and they see initial ‘mistakes’ as a positive part of the process. Hearing the discussions they have shows good team work as well.

As a teacher it is exciting to see a new way of thinking being developed.

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