What's the problem with problem solving?

Today, I completed my first set of six interactive group teaching sessions in maths for children aged 7 - 9 and 9 - 12 and we looked at Magic Squares. This is a fantastically rich mathematical investigation which involves looking at patterns and connections first with colours and then with numbers. Using a 3 x 3 grid and three colours - red, yellow and blue - the children were challenged to arrange the colours so that there was one square of each colour in each row and column. We then progressed to replacing each colour with a number - 1,2 or 3 to see if we could create a magic square - square where the total of each row, column and diagonal totals the same number. Breaking the problem down into manageable steps is the key to successful problem solving and this enabled the children to find the magic square with a magic total of 6 using the numbers 1,2 and 3. This was then extended to find other sets of three numbers with a magic total of 6 and to find other magic totals using sets of 3 numbers. The younger children recognised that the number on the diagonal was the magic total divided by the number of squares on the diagonal and the older group were able to find many different sets of three numbers to give a magic total of 6. I was really impressed with the level of persistence and engagement which created an atmosphere of positivity and confidence. I love working with groups of children on problem solving. Great job everyone!

Bookings for my next series of maths lessons for children aged 7 - 9 and 9 - 12 are now open via the website

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