Year 1

FREE Key Stage 1 / KS1 maths resources

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We can talk about how we solve problems using adding/subtracting.

Year 1 Unit 8

What we are learning:

  • Since ‘getting the right answer’ is not the only aim of maths, it is important to ‘work puzzles out together’ to get children to explain their thinking. Always be prepared to ask your child, How did you work that out?
  • Listen carefully to their explanation. Remember that there will probably be more than one way of working the answer out – if they get the correct answer it does not matter which method they use. Don’t be tempted to make them use ‘your’ method.
  • However, there may be a quicker way for them to work out the answer. In this case it is fine to ask, Can you think of a quicker way we could work that out? and explore it together. For example, if you asked What is 12 take away 6? your child might work it out as a subtraction by counting down. Of course, they might know that 6 is half of 12 but not use that knowledge to help them solve the problem, so you could ask them, Could you have used a fact you know to solve that question?
  • Nearly all of this work will be oral, don’t be tempted to write down the questions and answers – the important element here is talking together about the maths and the understanding and language of maths.
  • Use practical objects wherever it is helpful – needing to use practical objects is not a weakness, it is a stage we all go through. It means that your child’s number skills will be stronger.

Activities you can do at home:

Talk about numbers and number problems. For example Tom has 3 books and Ellie has 4 books, how many do they have all together?

Explore how your child got to their answer. Being able to explain your thinking is a difficult skill and helps children to develop their mathematical thinking.

If they are correct and can explain how they got their answer, praise them for explaining their thinking and method and not just for getting the correct answer – this will encourage them to explain their thinking and ideas next time and will also help them to develop the language of explanations.
How did you work that out?
Could you work this out in another way?
If they are ‘wrong’ don’t give them the ‘right’ answer straight away. Ask them to explain how they worked it out – if they explain their thinking and it is clear that their thinking/strategy is correct and it is just a calculation slip that meant the answer was ‘incorrect’ then they may begin to spot this for themselves. Praise them for seeing where they made a mistake and for correcting it this encourages your child to take risks and to have a go.

Good questions to ask:

How could you work it out/ what ideas have you got for working this out?
How did you work it out?
How can we check the answer?

If your child:

Can solve a problem but finds it difficult to explain what they have done
Explain to your child how you solved the problem and see whether they used the same method. If they used a different method, see if they can now begin to explain it
Can easily and confidently see one way of solving a problem
Ask your child whether there are other ways of solving the same problem

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)