> Hands on activities I

Hands on activities I

Nicki Collocott
Gladstone Cluster


Finding 3.7: Kinaesthetic
Use kinaesthetic pedagogical practices as a point of entry to abstract mathematics knowledge.



Through the professional development and collaborative sessions I was involved in, it became clear that our Indigenous students seemed to learn mathematical ideas better when a ‘hands-on’ approach was used. I decided to incorporate as many ‘hands-on’ activities as possible to help the students.

What happened?

There were many examples, but the following activities are two I used to help the students learn about circles.

1.  We lookied at relationships between circumference and diameter and radius lines by:

  • Cutting out a piece of wool of any size between 2 and 10 cm
  • Using our piece of wool to draw a circle one end (by holding one end down on the centre of our page and the other end onto our pencil)
  • To record the group’s measurements of the wool
  • Estimating how many times our piece of wool would be needed to go around our circle and checking with our piece of wool
  • Recording all our estimates and measurements in a table
  • Analysing our table to see if there were any similarities
  • Writing what we found in a mathematical way – we discovered that if we doubled every one’s piece of wool then multiply it by approx. 3, we could work out the circumference)
  • Introducing pi and its value
  • Checking pi could be part of the relationship and how
  • Extending it by working backwards (knowing the circumference, their working out the diameter or radius).

2. We looked at area of a circle by:

  • Using our same piece of wool to draw a circle on 1 cm graph paper estimating the number of square inside the circle
  • Repeating the process of collecting data in a table
  • Looking for relationships
  • Coming up with a mathematical way of writing it
  • Checking that it worked for everyone
  • Extending this by working backwards (knowing the area, and then working out the radius).

I believe that the hands-on approach has seen Indigenous students (and other students) engage with mathematics in a more positive way…I think the increased engagement and improved attitude will eventually lead to improved results.


Some questions to prompt discussions with your colleagues:

  1. Can you think of other mathematical concepts that students might understand better when they see, feel and can play with a concrete example of the concept?
  2. How could their teacher make links to abstract or symbolic representations of the mathematics?
  3. What other interesting or important aspects are in this Significant Episode?

Learning through hands-on activities

Download the PDF of this significant episode.