Tag Archives: art

265. Book of the term!

We may only be a few weeks into the summer term, but I can safely say this is my book of the term. A gently inspiring, pick up a pencil and relax book.


‘This is not a Maths book’ by Anna Weltman (RRP £9.99) takes all the beautiful ideas we maths teachers wish we could use more often and collects them into a wonderful book.


The pages are full colour and the paper quality is excellent – almost tactile. And the best bit is that no-one can tell you off for doing students’ work or wasting your time making that wall display just right. It’s your book … just for you … you can be as possessive and OCD about the colouring pencils as you want!

It would make a good end of term prize too – a bit different to the usual geometry set or calculator. If you are a forward planner, you could even buy this book for your mathematical someone in a departmental ‘Secret Santa’.

138. Kandinsky Combinations!

This week I gave a talk to a group of PGCE/Schools Direct associates about innovation and ‘keeping it fresh’. One of my points was you should ‘Keep the good ideas and bin the rubbish/pointless ones’. This is one of my ideas I kept – first used in the late 1990s!

Wassily Kandinsky was an artist, born in Russia in 1866. He died in France in 1944. He is credited with being the first artist to explore purely abstract work. Researching him is a nice homework task which can add to the final work.

Farbstudie quadrate mit konzentrischen ringen


This work has been reproduced thousands of times -you can see it everywhere from student bedrooms to upmarket coffee shops. The original was completed in 1913. It roughly translates as colour study squares with concentric circles.


You will need:
Squared paper (or plain)
Coloured pencils or pens

1. Show the class the painting and discuss how the colours are arranged.

2. How many ways can you colour in one square with one colour? 1

3. How many ways can you colour in two concentric squares with two colours? 2

4. Repeat for three colours and ask for predictions. The usual prediction is 3, the answer is 6.

5. Repeat the process and ask them if they can see a pattern forming. Encourage them to be methodical.

The colour patterns form a set of factorial numbers. Finding out about factorials could be a good extension task.

After the work is completed you’ve potentially got a great wall display, a cross-curricular link to art and an understanding of combinations/factorials.

This also looks rather cool done with concentric equilateral triangles or hexagons on isometric paper.

123. Jaffa Moon

I’ve just spent the morning doing a cross curricular primary reward project with gifted and talented Y5/6 pupils. I was working with two colleagues from Science and Art. We were doing SAM, rather than STEM. It was brilliant!


We made bouncy balls, bounced them in flour and cocoa powder, videoed the impacts, photoshopped the crater pictures, compared width of impact crater with the height dropped (scatter graph), calculated the speed of impact of the balls on Earth and on the moon – we even did the Jaffa cake phases of the moon. Our scientist gave us the correct terminonology and we did it correctly, unlike the memorable advert:

Jaffa Cake advert

It did take us more than one jaffa cake … ahem, I mean attempt… to get it right. For the sake of accuracy, you understand …