Primary Task – Sisters & Brothers

Based on “Sisters & Brothers” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page."sisters & brothers" book cover

Imagine you were born a quadruplet. What does that mean? What would that mean in your family?

“Nine-banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets – four brothers or four sisters. They are clones, perfect copies of one another, so they are exactly alike down to their toenails.”

Use two sided counters to encourage play with 4 (yellow) sister quadruplets or 4 (red) brother quadruplets. Use the 4 chips to play a game of Sneaky Chips. Hide the chips around the room for the class. Students gather 4 chips (armadillos) from under tables, on top of books, between the legs of a chair. Invite students to find the sneaky chips that are hiding. After each chip, (or a few chips), have been found stop and ask

“How many chips have you found so far? How many more do you need to find? How do you know?”

Co-create responses to the question: When do we see groups of 4 ?

Explore the properties of 4. Extensions to skip counting multiples of 4. Combine brothers and sisters with a partner to explore the properties of 8 again playing Sneaky Chips.

Game source: Jonathan Edmonds, Brooklyn Friends School,K-2 Math Specialist

Weekly Primary Math Task – Nov 13, 2016

Up-and-Down Staircase:

One block is needed to make an up-and-down staircase, with one step up and one step down.

4 blocks make an up-and-down staircase with 2 steps up and 2 steps down.

How many blocks would be needed to build an up-and-down staircase with 5 steps up and 5 steps down?

Explain how you would work out the number of blocks needed to build a staircase with any number of steps.


Weekly Primary Task – Nov 6, 2016


100 Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

  • Read the story to the students.
  • Ask the students to choose one of the following numbers: 12, 24 or 36.
  • Ask them to imagine that this number of ants is going to the picnic.
  • Ask how many different ways could the ants arrange themselves into equal rows.
  • Have the students draw an array and write an equation for each solution.

Weekly Primary Task – Oct 23, 2016

Allow students time to explore the attributes of various 3-D shapes. Have them identify the faces, edges and vertices of the 3-D shapes? Present various problems for them to solve:

  1. If you had 3 cones, 2 cylinders and a sphere, how many faces would you have? How do you know?
  2. You have 1 cube and your friend has 4 cylinders. Who has more faces? How do you know?
  3. I have some objects and in total I counted 8 faces. What might the objects be? Explain your thinking.
  4. I have a collection of objects that have 7 faces and a point. What shapes could they be? Explain your thinking.

Have the students create their own clues to create a problem.

(From Vector, March 2015)

Weekly Primary Task – Oct 16, 2016

Take your class outside and have students collect 5 of an object (leaves, rocks, etc..). The task is for students to work in groups and find different ways to make 5. How many ways can you make 5? How can you show all of your ways?

Extensions: How about 4? How about 6?

Weekly Primary Task – Oct 9, 2016


  • 10 or more snap cubes per student

Task Instruction

  • This is an activity that children can work on in groups.
  • Each child makes a train of connecting cubes of a specified number.
  • On the signal “Snap,” children break their trains into two parts and hold one hand behind their back.
  • Children take turns going around the circle showing their remaining cubes.
  • The other children work out the full number combination.


How Many Are Hiding?

September 25, 2016


  • 10 or more snap cubes / objects per player
  • a cup for each player

Task Instruction

  • In this activity each child has the same number of cubes and a cup
  • They take turns hiding some of their cubes in the cup and showing the leftovers
  • Other children work out the answer to the question “How many are hiding,” and say the full number combination

Example: I have 10 cubes and I decide to hide 4 in my cup. My group can see that I only have 6 cubes. Students should be able to say that I’m hiding 4 cubes and that 6 and 4 make 10.