Primary Primary Maths

Primary Maths Activities for the 40th Anniverary of the UK joining the EU

One of the main changes Britain encountered when joining the EU was the use of metric measurements in our daily lives. Still not completely integrated to the European system of weights and measures, does the dual system actually cause confusion or can children cope better than adults at mixing and matching imperial and metric measures? Using money abroad has got a lot easier with the adoption of the Euro by many of the holiday destinations that the children may visit.

Activity One – Measuring and WeighingEUFlag
Year 2 to Year 6

This activity enables children to work on weighing and measuring using imperial and metric measures, estimating and using different scales and finally decide which system is easier or better.

Be able to use metric and imperial scales to measure mass, length and capacity.
Be able to estimate length, mass and capacity in the different scales based on previous knowledge.

Talking Point:
Ask the class to tell you how tall they are and how heavy they are (sensitivity is likely to be needed here!) Compile a chart of the children’s names with height and weight on it. If they give answers in stones and pounds or feet and inches, mark them on the chart in red, if they use metric measures, use blue. At the end of the exercise compare how many used each type of measure and ask a selection why they did. Which do the children find easier to use to compare against others and why that is so.

Ask the children to bring in scales, rulers and tape measures from home with a combination of imperial and metric measures on them and spend some time discussing the breakdown of units into m, cm and mm or feet and inches etc. Set out a selection of objects and ask the children to estimate their lengths and masses in whichever unit they prefer to use, then measure them accurately. Give them rough equivalents for the conversion from metric to imperial and vice versa and ask them to convert them.

Talking Point:
You can play a little game to check their understanding of the units of measurement. Hold up a book and ask ‘Does this book have a mass of 200g?’ or ‘Is this book eleven inches long?’ By repeating the questions with different standards of measure you’ll get an idea of their preference and understanding.

At Home:
Get the children to ask their parents and grandparents which units of measurement they would use for driving distance, weight, height, capacity etc. and compare answers. In class, you can collate the information and do a Carroll Diagram showing age ranges against metric/imperial usage. Discuss the results which are likely to show a large number using imperial measurements.

Activity Two – Shopping European Style!
Year 3 to Year 6

This introduces children to the operation of ratios for exchange rates, which whilst not obviously in ratio form, operate as, for example, one pound = 1.2 euros so, 1: 1.2

Use ratios to answer questions based on exchange rates
Use multiplication to answer questions based on exchange rates

Talking Point:
Ask the children to put up their hands to tell you which foreign countries they have been to on holiday or to visit friends. Ask them what the name is of the money that is used in the country they have visited. If they can remember, ask them if they think they can buy as much with a dollar, a euro, a rupee or a zloty as they could with a pound. Tell them that the way to work out if something is cheaper or more expensive in another country is to use exchange rates so that prices can be compared in the same currency.

Activity:  Show an exchange rate in a calculation table such as this: ConversionTableAsk them if they can predict how many euros would be the same as 3, 4 or 5 euros etc.

You can do this simply by adding 1.20 onto the euro column figure each time you add one to the pound column but there is another way. Ask if anyone can tell you how many euros equal £10 and if they give you the correct answer ask how they calculated it. It’s likely that some will continue adding 1.20, ten times but some may have worked out that you can use 1.20 x 10 and get the answer.

If you have completed work on simple decimals such as 0.5, you can extend this activity to calculating how many euros are the same as £1.50 or £2.50 etc.

Activity 2:
Use the accompanying worksheet for children to calculate the equivalent costs of items in a toy shop. You can amend the prices to suit the level of challenge you want to present. You can also amend the currency if you wish.

You can use the reverse exchange rate to get the children to calculate how much an item priced in a foreign currency might cost in pounds.

At Home:
Ask the children to find the tourist exchange rate table from a newspaper and calculate the currency equivalent of £5 and £10 in perhaps ten of the world’s currencies.

Dave Lewis
Primary Teacher


Collins Primary

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