Using Shark Fossils to Help Primary School Children with Maths

Another day and another free download for teachers and educationalists.   Everything Dinosaur team members had been approached by a number of primary school teachers and HLTAs (Higher Learning Teaching Assistants), to help key stage 1 pupils get to grips with some of the symbols used in mathematics that they will encounter as they progress to key stage 2.  In particular, we were asked to come up with novel ways of helping young children from five years of age to recognise and remember what certain symbols used in mathematics stand for.

Much of the emphasis of the mathematics part of the national curriculum in the United Kingdom is based around young learners making connections between numbers, shapes and symbols.  During key stage 1, pupils develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematics through practical activity, exploration and discussion.  Many children are keen on dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures so if team members at Everything Dinosaur could build in a prehistoric theme, then all the better to help with the learning.  Children at key stage 1 learn to count, read, write and order numbers to 100 and beyond.   They develop a range of mental calculation skills and should be able to use these skills confidently in different settings.  Children learn about shape and space through practical activity which builds on their understanding of their immediate environment.  They begin to grasp mathematical language, using it to talk about their methods and explain their reasoning when solving problems.  It is developing a familiarity with mathematical symbols where Everything Dinosaur comes in, why not use some images of fossilised shark teeth to help children learn about the “greater than” > and the “less than” < signs.

Using Fossils to Help Children Learn About Mathematics

Greater than and less than thanks to C. megalodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur team members used pictures of the huge, fossilised teeth of a giant prehistoric shark called Carcharodon megalodon to create the mathematical symbols.  As children move onto key stage 2, they are expected to be able to recognise that the position of a digit gives its value and to use correctly the <> symbols.

To request a free download of the fossilised sharks symbols: Email Everything Dinosaur

The teeth are part of Everything Dinosaur’s fossil collection.  Some of these fossils are brought into schools to help pupils learn about animals that lived in the past.  The shark teeth are particularly spectacular and these specimens are bigger than the typical hand of an nine year old child.  Such objects always intrigue and fascinate the children and they get a great deal out of the dinosaur workshops in schools that the staff conduct, so why not use some of the fossils to help children with other aspects of their education.

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