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Finding maths in unexpected places

24 November 2020


I revisited the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl last year as part of my ‘Chocolate’ theme for year 4. I loved reading when I was young (still do!) and some of my favourite books were ones by Roald Dahl, but on reading it as an adult, I had many questions. Exactly how many toothpaste caps would Mr Bucket need to screw on to make enough money for all the food the family needs? How many days could Charlie make his one special chocolate bar last for? How many oompa-loompas would be needed to run such an incredible factory? What volume of chocolate would be needed to fill an entire river of chocolate, and exactly how would they melt it all? If Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory was “50 times as big as any other”, then how big was it? What was the weight of all those cacao beans in his factory? The list went on and on before I told myself to stop questioning and to just enjoy the book. However, it did occur to me that these questions were all maths related. They involved time, counting, temperature, measure, perimeter, area, and percentages. For a book that never actually mentions maths, there is a lot of maths involved. When the opportunity arose for me to organise maths week, I knew I wanted to highlight to our pupils that we can find maths in unexpected places. It is in the buildings we visit, the music we sing to, the food that we cook and the books that we read.



This is how our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed maths week was decided. Each class studies maths every day at Wellington College International Hangzhou. We teach many different concepts in many ways, encouraging the use of concrete objects, where appropriate, using interactive hands-on activities and inspiring questions and exploration for pupils of all ages.



We would like each child to do more than just memorise the maths concepts that they are learning - we want them to be able to apply these concepts in different situations, create their own questions about the concept and to understand exactly why they are learning what they are learning. In ‘addition’ to this, we want them to feel inspired and interested in maths and everything it encompasses. Using themed weeks allows the school and community to come together to motivate our pupils and show them how they use maths in every-day life, and how they might use it when they are older.



Our teachers had been thinking up some fun, delicious and educational maths activities for the week which were sure to keep the pupils of Wellington College International Hangzhou entertained and challenged. The activities that had been planned for the week promoted the use of problem solving and stimulated collaborative work between the pupils. 



Year 1 built a chocolate factory using their knowledge of 3D shapes. Year 2 focused on weighing and measuring to create their very own ‘fizzy lifting drink’. Year 3 built on their knowledge of fractions to make a Willy Wonka inspired candy pizza. Year 4 and 5 cooked up some delicious chocolate bars as part of their work on weighing and measuring and year 6 tackled some difficult questions on perimeter and area to reate a whole new part of the chocolate factory.


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