I have continued to use the problem solving approach for maths with our new topic of fractions. We have used both everyday problems that have arisen opportunistically or more planned situations to get the children talking and involved in maths. It is an important way of learning because the children are motivated to use their previous knowledge to solve a new problem and to try out different ways of solving problems successfully.
They respond to both real and imaginary problems using book characters or toys they can relate to. Feeding the toy animals a quarter of the food, or sharing out the class fruit equally are problems that they feel they can help solve. Discussing how we can solve the problem when sharing is not equal leads to some imaginative thinking such as two children might not like milk so that would give enough to share equally, or the fruit might need to be cut up and then the discussion centres on how to cut it up so that there is enough to go around. Would halves be enough or would we need to cut the fruit into quarters? Would they get more than one quarter?
The children are enjoying the "Maths warmup" whereby we go over many of the mathematical topics we have covered this year. It is like a quick review and helps to remind them of strategies they can use when they are looking for a solution such as counting in two's, distributing and redistributing, measuring, doubles and so on.
Some children still prefer to let others do the talking so it is important to monitor this. Sometimes a quick discussion with these children on a one to one basis is helpful or just saying we need to give these children more "thinking time" during the discussions gives them more confidence to offer solutions. One child coming up with an inventive solution which is accepted helps others find new ways.