I used to do courses for classroom assistants who didn’t have a maths qualification. We’d do a short course at the start of September. Most had spent their lives failing in mathematics lessons, and the night before the course started some wouldn’t sleep for worry – they’d cheerfully have spent the morning with their dentist rather than with me. But when St Peter asks me why he should let me into Heaven, I’ll tell him that there are a few hundred people in the world who by the end of the course were crying with laughter that they’d enjoyed themselves so much with activities like The Orchestra and The Farmyard.
The Orchestra is quite simply the most fun you can ever have with a group in a maths lesson. Use it with a small group (fun), a whole class (terrific) or the entire school (brilliant).
Appoint about a quarter of your group to be the 2s. Their job is that whenever you count a multiple of 2 they have to stand up and sit straight down again.
So they have to go:
1 – 2 (stand / sit) – 3 – 4 (stand / sit) – 5 – 6 (stand / sit) – 7 – 8 (stand / sit) – ….
Another section are the 3s. Their rôle is:
1 – 2 – 3 (stand / sit) – 4 – 5 – 6 (stand / sit) – 7 – 8 – 9 (stand / sit) – 10 – ….
And the 4s will go:
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 (stand / sit) – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 (stand / sit) – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12 (stand / sit) – ….
The final group has the easy job, so you can reserve it for those with lots of energy. They’re the 1s, and they stand / sit for every number.
Personally, I like to allow a little time to let each section rehearse on their own, but as soon as you’re ready you can conduct the whole performance – you make the count, and all groups perform their contributions simultaneously, no doubt with great cheers on the occasions when everyone has to stand / sit at the same time.
You’ll find all sorts of ways of implement The Orchestra in your own style, but if you want a really unforgettable experience then use the Farmyard variation – so the 2s might be chickens and have to “Cluck Cluck” each time they stand / sit, and the 3s might be donkeys, who go “Ee-aw”, ….
And while it may be the most wonderful fun, The Orchestra offers much more than that. You’ll get – and indeed feel – some quite profound insights into factors, multiples, and the like.