Ratio and proportion

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By Laura Ward

Ratio and Proportion are linked closely with multiplication, division and fractions. Scaling problems, such as making a number ten times larger, or finding half the size of an amount, are the solid foundation on which ratio and proportion are built. This article provides a range of creative activities that can be used across Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, sparking discussions and developing children’s reasoning around these ideas.

In the curriculum

Ratio and proportion

Although the 2014 curriculum does not use the terms ‘ratio’ and ‘proportion’ until Year 6, the basis of these concepts can be found across both Key Stages.

In a nutshell, ratio describes how one amount relates to another, for example:

“¾ of the class are boys and ¼ of the class are girls”

“for every 100g of flour I need to use 1 egg”.

So, although we are not using the term ‘ratio’ or its mathematical notation (a:b) with most Key Stage 1 and 2 children, we can still introduce this concept throughout maths lessons. In Year 2, children are asked to compare measures using simple multiples, such as ‘half as high’ and ‘twice as wide’.

At Key Stage 2, children in both Year 3 and Year 4 are asked to use multiplication to solve ‘integer scaling problems’ and ‘correspondence problems in which n objects are connected to m objects’. This sets the children up to begin thinking about ratio in Year 5. Here, they are still solving problems involving multiplication and division, including fractions this time.

Finally, in Year 6, we see a section of the mathematics curriculum specifically defined for ratio and proportion problems. Children solve problems involving the relative sizes of two quantities, and work out missing values using multiplication and division.

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