Time, symmetry, and maths

Setting up

Setting up

In the weekend Ivy and I ran a Girl Guide Biscuit stand at one of the supermarkets in town – a 2 hour stint is usually enough to put a good dent in our allocated boxes, but it’s a very hard task for her to stand in one small space for a couple of hours.

It was a very slow start, after getting our first sale before we’d even set up the table, and it wasn’t long before Ivy chimed in with the age old ‘how long to go now?’ She has only had a passing interest in time so far. She doesn’t want to know how to read a clock, and the concept of time can be parceled out into ‘now’, ‘soon’ and ‘AGGGGGGGEEEEEES away’, so I thought this afforded a perfect opportunity to talk a little more about time.

We started by talking about how many minutes there are in an hour (she knew there was 60). I told her we had an hour and three quarters to go, which meant we could divide 60 by 2 to find half an hour, and then 4, to figure out what a quarter was. Given a practical purpose for telling time, she picked up the concepts of quarter and half hours pretty quickly, and every now and then I’d say there was a certain amount of time to go, and she’d work out how many minutes that was, or I’d tell her how many minutes and she would work out what that was in hours/quarters/halves. Win!

One of the things I noted throughout the time was that Ivy has a love of symmetry. She changed the display several times, but always had even numbers of each type of biscuit on each side of the table. We related this back to the art course that she has been doing, as we’ve been learning a bit about balance and symmetry there. She is struggling a little with the idea of creating balance through asymmetry, but couldn’t bring herself to let me change her symmetry to try and create an asymmetrical balance in her display.

After spending the first hour watching me make the sales, Ivy finally decided that she was ready to try it for herself. I think she needed to see how it worked first before taking the task on. I was really impressed that she was able to mostly make the right change, and asked me to check when she wasn’t sure about it. People were thankfully willing to wait a little bit, and I think it gave her a nice confidence boost.

We didn’t sell as many biscuits as we’d have liked, but it was a really good experience, and she coped very well with having to be in one spot.


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