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Squeezy maths

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By John Dabellteacher, writer and Ofsted-trained inspector

Discover ways of drawing the last bit of learning out of simple KS2 concepts

Number 4

Teaching maths involves a lot of squeezing. It’s like a tube of toothpaste. There’s more in there than you think and sometimes you have to squeeze really hard to get it all out. How could you ‘squeeze’ a concept? Let’s think about something really simple – for example, the number 4. These activity ideas are ideal for challenging more able children, in particular.

Using the number 4

There are a number of starting points: the number 4 is an even number, it is a natural number (a positive integer), a composite number (a number with more than two factors), and a square number (since 2 × 2 = 4). We could write the number 4 in different ways, such as a Roman numeral or in tally form. What other ways might there be?

We could leave things there, but we would be wasting a lot of toothpaste still. There’s still more to squeeze and find out. For example, try the following challenge:

Can you use a combination of just four 4s and any operations to write the number 4?
For example, to make the number 4 you could do this calculation: 4 × (4 – 4) + 4 = 4

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