Milking maths: Shape

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By John DabellYear 4 teacher at Forest Fields Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham

What is a rectangle? Spending time investigating simple shape questions will lead to a deeper level of understanding

A cube

This is the second article in my ‘Milking maths’ series that intends to make the most of a maths moment and exploit it to the full. It is all too easy to race through maths exercises in order to cover ground, but when we milk the maths we press the ‘pause’ button and freeze frame the moment and achieve more maths than would otherwise be accomplished. It’s also great training for children to see maths like a Russian nesting doll, in that one concept leads to another.

This month, the focus is shape. Spending time discussing the properties of seemingly basic maths shapes reveals that there is a lot to learn. Looking at rectangles in more detail provides just one example of how children can improve the precision of identifying a shape for what it actually is. They can then go on to examine other shapes with more mathematical insight, posing their own questions and truly fulfilling their learning objectives.


  1. Getting started
  2. Rectangle investigation
  3. How many rectangles can you see?
  4. Perimeter and area
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