Primary Primary Maths

Primary Maths – Scott of the Antarctic

In planning his epic and ultimately tragic journey, Robert Falcon Scott needed careful navigational skills and these involved map reading, measuring distance and using bearings. He would also have needed to be acutely aware of weather conditions. This series of activities allows the children to practise some of the skills Scott would have had to use.

Activity One – Grid References

LO: To be able to identify the position of an object on a grid by its coordinates
To be able to use coordinates to place an object on a grid or map

Grid references are fun no matter what level you use them at.

The first activity is great for younger children. If you’ve got an interactive whiteboard you can prepare this in advance. On the board, draw an 8 x 6 grid and draw a picture of an object in each square – you can repeat some pictures. Label the boxes along the bottom A to H and up the side 1 to 6. Begin by demonstrating how we name each box by reading along the bottom and up the side. Remind them to think ‘Along the hall and up the stairs’. Now ask them to say which picture is in say, square D5 or H3 moving on to asking them to say which square an object is in. If you’ve repeated pictures, it gives other children a chance to see how a square is named before naming the repeated picture following the same pattern.

Older or more able children should now work with the coordinates placed on the lines of the grid and remember that the coordinates of the bottom left hand corner defines the square.

The progression on from this is to give and ask for grid locations where the grid is further subdivided virtually into ten so for example a mark in the middle of square 5, 4 would have the reference 55, 44. For the very able you can introduce ordnance survey maps and use six digit referencing.

At Home: For an extension activity, ask the children to find out the coordinates of their home either from a map or from Google Earth. In the classroom pin up a labelled grid of your catchment area and ask the children to plot their homes on it.

Activity Two – Bearings

LO: Be able to describe a direction to be taken in terms of bearings
Be able to follow directions given by a bearing

Bearings are an interesting way of giving direction. In KS1 and KS2 it’s likely you will have used quarter and half turns clockwise and anticlockwise but this activity introduces the notion of bearings.

Chalk a large compass on the playground marking NSEW and labelling them with degrees, 0, 90, 180 and 270.  Place an object at north (0 degrees) and another at east (90 degrees). Ask the children to say what direction they would have to turn and by how many degrees? You can place the object at different places around the compass but make sure that the children always count clockwise from north.

You can extend the activity to direction from one object to another. Mark a north/south line on the playground crossed by an east/west line. Place an object where they intersect then another in one of the quadrants.

Directions are always calculated from north or south depending which sector they are in so the first part of your direction finding will either be N or S. The next part of it is the angle measured from north or south to the line that joins the two objects so if the line bisects a quadrant the next part of the bearing is 45 degrees followed by E or W depending on the quadrant.

Practise this with the children asking them to estimate the angle (which is always less than 90 degrees).

In class, ask the children to draw a treasure map on a piece of cm squared paper. Mark different landmarks or locations and use a protractor to calculate the bearing.

At Home: Draw a plan of your room and calculate the bearings of the different items in it.


Activity Three – Positive and Negative Numbers

LO: Be able to recognise and use negative numbers in the context of counting on and back
Understand what happens to a number when you count through zero

Another playground activity, this helps children to count through zero into negative numbers.

In early subtraction work, children use objects and remove some of them to show subtraction so 11 sweets take away 5 sweets equals six sweets. There they can physically see the process taking place so visualising the problem. This doesn’t work with negative numbers so a different approach is needed.
Either draw a long number line across the playground labelled -10 to 10 or give each child a card with a number from -10 to 10 on it. You can ask them to arrange themselves in order to begin with then get the children without a card to count up or down a certain number making a sum from their exploits so counting 9 down from 4 would give the sum 4 – 9 = -5 and so on. The complicated part is when you take away from a negative number. So counting down 5 from -4 would give you the sum -4 -5 = -9.
Give the children photocopied number lines back in class and ask them to calculate similar sums to those they worked out on the playground.

At Home: Measure the temperature of a glass of salt water then place it in the freezer. After an hour check the temperature and calculate the difference between the start and end temperatures.

Dave Lewis
Primary Teacher

Take a look at Collins Big Cat: Captain Scott Journey to the South Pole.

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