How long would it take to pick up all the leaves?

The Basic Idea

Getting children to estimate and work with four digit numbers and beyond very quickly. Stand in a park and pose a problem to solve: There are Park Rangers that have to pick up all of the leaves when they fall. How long will this take? Children then use story mapping techniques to ‘work up the Maths’.

Take the children from the macro environment of numerous trees and scale it down to one tree. Stand in front it: how many leaves? Still too big? Focus on one branch: how many leaves? Still too big? Focus on a twig: how many leaves? Then work backwards estimating how many leaves on the branch; how many branches; tree?

– Stop here and go back to class –

Recap on the important numbers, then ask the children to work up from a twig, drawing, noting down and writing the Maths underneath each section of their story map or cartoon strip (see picture) How many trees in a 10 metre strip? 10m square?

– This is where you might stop… –

How to take it even further or make it more challenging

Whole Park? How would work this out? Google Maps help you? How many leaves on a shovel? Therefore how many shovels for all of the leaves in a 10m square? How long would this take if you work out how long it takes to clear one shovel? How long would the Park Rangers work for? How much would you pay them? How many hours would they work a day? …